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ACT Fundamentals


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ACT is a modern, research based therapy. Learning ACT means developing a whole new set of life skills. We've put together this list of resources to help you on your journey. These are all very helpful, and enormously empowered by working with an ACT therapist and using the book as a resource to empower those sessions.

First. the Association for Cognitive Behavioural Science is a terrific organisation with a wealth of useful resources for people learning ACT. These are a great place to start:

Other key introductory resources to take a look at:

1. The Happiness Trap book – the simplest, most practical ACT self-help book from Australia’s foremost ACT trainer Dr Russ Harris. Available at most Australian booksellers, and of course on Kindle etc.

From the book’s website “The Happiness Trap is a unique and empowering self-help book – now published in 30 countries and 22 languages – that will enrich your life and fundamentally transform the way you handle difficult thoughts and painful feelings. The title reflects a key theme in the book: popular ideas about happiness are misleading or inaccurate, and will make you miserable in the long term, if you believe them.”

The founder of ACT Steve Hayes says: “Carefully and creatively presents techniques that anyone can use to undermine struggle, avoidance, and loss of the moment. Harris systematically explores how we get into the ‘happiness trap’ and then shines a powerful beacon showing us another way forward.”

2.  Mindfulness Skills Vol 1 - Available as an instant MP3 download here.

3.  6 ACT Conversations - excellent and free Acceptance and Commitment Training podcast series, available here.

4. ACT Coach is an excellent and FREE ACT App for iPhone developed by the US Dept of Veterans Affairs - look in the iPhone App store.

Here are THREE brief, entertaining videos which nicely demonstrate the principles of ACT:

1.  Headstuck! What is Experiential Avoidance? By Rob Archer: 3 ½ minutes, very engaging, simple, effective animated video.

2. M!ndi - the ACT model in 3 ½ animated minutes, by NeLi Martin: simply wonderful, Brisbane ACT therapist, web team and musicians.

3. Build your Emotional Agility, by Susan David CEO of Evidence Based Psychology on Harvard Business Review: 2 min 50 sec, ACT for workplace.


Mindfulness is one of the key skills to develop when learning ACT, here are some resources to help.

Mindfulness Skills Vol 1 –buy as MP3 instant download here.

ACT Coach is an excellent and FREE ACT App for iPhone developed by the US Dept of Veterans Affairs – look in the iPhone App store.

It can be very helpful to practice mindfulness in groups. Here are some in Brisbane.

http://www.meditateinbrisbane.org/ - all over Central Brisbane

http://meditation.meetup.com/cities/au/brisbane/ There are many here, choose carefully, some might be "out there"

http://www.rigpabrisbane.org/ - in Red Hill

and in Sunshine Coast Hinterland - http://www.chenrezig.com.au/

also check http://meditation.meetup.com/cities/au


Defusion is another key skill, learning to get in touch with your surroundings and loosen up from your thoughts.

Think Mindfully - an excellent, free and fun online defusion program.

An Introduction to Defusion with Russ Harris - an excellent 2 hour podcast teaching these skills.

A really long list of defusion exercises

and yet more defusion exercises

Please approach these exercises playfully, with curiosity and openness.


Kristin Neff - Guided Self Compassion Meditations are available here.

Paul Gilbert

Christopher Germer

Tara Brach - With guided meditations available here.

Finally, wise and fun!
(and inspiration)

Mr Ramesh

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The Happiness Trap Pocketbook - brief illustrated version of the Happiness Trap. 

An illustrated guide on how to stop struggling and start living

Dr Russ Harris and Bev Aisbett

Now, in The Happiness Trap Pocketbook, Russ has joined forces with acclaimed self-help author and illustrator, Bev Aisbett, to produce a highly illustrated, simpler, shorter version of the book that will not only resonate with readers of the original but also find a new audience for Russ’s empowering message.


Users guide to the human mind

Fantastic companion piece to The Happiness Trap.

In the author Shawn Smith’s inimitable words:

I’ll bet that you, like me, have a mind that follows you through life offering constant commentary. A mind can be a difficult thing to live with. That’s why I have written The User’s Guide to the Human Mind: Why Our Brains Make Us Unhappy, Anxious, and Neurotic, and What We Can Do about It.

It’s about living with your mind when your mind is driving you crazy.

Your mind is not built to make you happy; it’s built to help you survive. So far, it’s done a great job! But in the process, it may have developed some bad habits, like avoiding new experiences or scrounging around for problems where none exist. Is it any wonder that worry, bad moods, and self-critical thoughts so often get in the way of enjoying life?

Based in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), The User’s Guide to the Human Mind is a road map to the puzzling inner workings of the human mind, replete with exercises for overriding the mind’s natural impulses toward worry, self-criticism, and fear, and helpful tips for acting in the service of your values and emotional well-being—even when your mind has other plans.

Find out how your mind tries to limit your behavior and your potential

Discover how pessimism functions as your mind’s error management system

Learn why you shouldn’t believe everything you think

Overrule your thoughts and feelings and take charge of your mind and your life


Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life

The very first ACT self-help book, written by founder Steve Hayes. Absolutely superb, and rather more than it needs to be, taking you deeply through many ACT perspectives and exercises. Available in audiobook. Recommended for those wishing to take things further.

"With kindness, erudition, and humor, the authors of Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life educate readers into a new way of thinking about psychological issues in general and life satisfaction in particular. Their combination of cutting-edge research and resonance with ancient, tried-and-true practices makes this one of the most fascinating and illuminating self-help books available. If you're tired of standard psychological parlance and still frustrated with your quality of life, this book can be a godsend." --Martha Beck

In This Moment: Five Steps to Transcending Stress Using Mindfulness and Neuroscience

“Chronic stress is a marker of living life on autopilot. This book gently wakes you up. It asks you instead to live life inside non-judgmental awareness and intentionality—and to do it right here, right now, in this moment. Written in Kirk Strosahl and Patricia Robinson's usual clear, step-by-step style, it contains scores of practical tips and exercises that gently train and practice a mindful path through stress. You cannot help but be moved.”

—Steven C. Hayes

Easy to read and understand for anyone struggling with stress and looking to make a turnaround in their life. Dr Strosahl and Dr Robinson have done a superb job of combining leading edge neuroscience, mindfulness and basic behavioral processes to help change behavior patterns that contribute to stress and to make long-term life-changes. The simple five step process of observing, describing, detaching, self-compassion and acting mindfully are nicely laid out with helpful worksheets, practices and strategies to help make change from within busy and stressful lives.

Leave Your Mind Behind: The Everyday Practice of Finding Stillness Amid Rushing Thoughts

Essentially a collation of mindfulness and defusion exercises. This illuminating little book offers readers insight into how our thoughts work (sometimes against us) to shape our perceptions and experiences. It includes fifty fun, engaging activities readers can learn in seconds and practice any time to learn to watch and let go of troubling thoughts.

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Articles for Psychology Today written by Emily Sandoz, Ph.D

Emily is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at University of Louisiana at Lafayette and director of the Louisiana Contextual Science Research Group. She is also a licensed psychologist who specializes in treating clients who struggle to live with peace and purpose in their bodies, including those suffering with body image disturbance, eating difficulties, medical issues, pain or sexual trauma. Emily is coauthor of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Eating Disorders, Mindfulness and Acceptance for Bulimia, and her upcoming title, Living with Your Body and Other Things You Hate.


Dr. Michael Sinclair's article "Oh Do Behave! How to Behave Your Way to the Life You Want With Acceptance and Committed Action" for the Huffington Post is a great primer on ACT and ACT Skills

Steven Hayes on Huffington Post<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-c-hayes-phd/>, on psychology today<https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/get-out-your-mind>.

Kelly Wilson on psychology today<https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-one-life>

Anthony Biglan on psychology today<https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-nurture-effect>, on Huffington Post<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anthony-biglan/>

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Rachel Collis is a skilled ACT practitioner who provides career and executive coaching, team facilitation and training to clients around Australia. She also teaches on the Executive MBA program at the Graduate School of Business, QUT.

You can read her blog on applying ACT to the workplace here: www.workingwithact.com


Shawn Smith: http://ironshrink.com


Sydney ACT Centre

The Sydney ACT Centre specialises in ACT coaching, treatment and training and is located near Circular Quay. We help people to live the best life possible, to thrive rather than merely survive. Our team consists of experienced psychologists who are passionate about working with people to live a meaningful life and to learn how to better handle difficult thoughts and feelings that act as barriers.

Dr. Shawn T. Smith

Shawn writes great pieces on his blog and is based in Denver, Colorado.


Todd B. Kashdan, Ph.D.

Todd is a leading authority on psychological flexibility, happiness, meaning in life, mindfulness, psychological strength development, leadership, stress and anxiety, and social relationships, publishing over 135 journal articles on these topics.


Mindful Therapy Psychology Services (Sunshine Coast)

Mindful Therapy Psychology Services (MTPS) is a psychology clinic based on the Sunshine Coast. A highly experienced team of psychologists and mental health practitioners helping to enhance emotional and psychological well-being for individuals, children, adolescents, parents, couples and families. MTPS practitioners have expertise in providing effective treatments through a range of empirically supported psychotherapy interventions (e.g., Mindfulness-Based CBT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Mindfulness and Solution Focused Therapy, emotion-focused and relational approaches) to address common and complex psychological and interpersonal issues, including, Anxiety and Depression, Trauma (including PTSD), Health behaviour change, Couples therapy, Stress reduction, Addiction, Adolescents, Grief and loss and Health Psychology. MTPS also provide Mindful Parenting Workshops and Mindful Meditation Programs to help parents and individuals incorporate mindfulness into their everyday. MTPS Practitioners are registered Medicare providers and are able to offer rebates under the Mental Health Care Plan, Veterans with a Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA card), and also clients with a Workcover QLD claim and private health insurance.

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CBT Radio: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cbt-radio/id825798897?mt=2

The ACBS Podcast: http://contextualscience.org/podcast

DJ Moran's Podcast: http://djmoran.podbean.com/

Dr. Steven Hayes, founder of ACT, interviewed about ACT for "The Middle Way"

6 ACT Conversations – excellent and free Acceptance and Commitment Training podcast series, available here.


These Podcasts are largely for professionals, but may helpful:

ACT in context podcast - from main ACBS site https://contextualscience.org/podcast

FUNCTIONALLY SPEAKING, excellent, conversational, http://djmoran.podbean.com/

ACT, taking hurt to hope - Joanne Dahl’s superb podcast, http://webtalkradio.net/internet-talk-radio/act-taking-hurt-to-hope/

CBT RADIO - not strictly ACT, but many excellent ACT interviews here http://cbtradio.libsyn.com/



Here are THREE brief, entertaining videos which nicely demonstrate the principles of ACT:

  1. Headstuck! What is Experiential Avoidance? By Rob Archer: 3 ½ minutes, very engaging, simple, effective animated video.
  1. M!ndi – the ACT model in 3 ½ animated minutes, by NeLi Martin: simply wonderful, Brisbane ACT therapist, web team and musicians.
  2. Build your Emotional Agility, by Susan David CEO of Evidence Based Psychology on Harvard Business Review: 2 min 50 sec, ACT for workplace – see also attached article.

Boggart scene - http://youtu.be/zAGBb9NYAiw

Russ Harris, MD: About ACT in simple terms https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5UWEgC0A4c

This is from here, where there are of course many, https://contextualscience.org/free_videos

These videos are worth linking, for some light relief, but equally helpful

Mr Ramesh - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=An18wQ3asMw
Bob Newhart - stop it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow0lr63y4Mw
the sketch show - phobia workshop https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koNwUeG-iKE

A nice Australian video of the bull's-eye and educational valuesL

Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg_8FIlQz60&feature=youtu.be
Very cool and useful 4 minute video on living your educational values more fully.







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Australian ACT app:

ACT Companion<http://www.actcompanion.com/> (most highly recommended) features over 25 powerful exercises and tools designed to help you get present, open up, and engage in a rich and meaningful life. "ACT Companion is brilliant. It's far and away the most impressive ACT or mindfulness app I've seen yet" says Dr Russ Harris, internationally acclaimed ACT trainer & bestselling author. At $20 more expensive than others, but far more fully functioned. Great value for money.

Australian mindfulness app:

Smiling Mind<http://smilingmind.com.au/> is modern meditation for young people.
It is a unique web and App-based program, designed to help bring balance to young lives.
It is a not-for-profit initiative based on a process that provides a sense of clarity, calm and contentment

Mind the Bump<http://www.mindthebump.org.au/> is a free Mindfulness Meditation App to help individuals and couples support their mental and emotional wellbeing in preparation for having a baby and becoming a new parent.


ACT Coach<https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/act-coach/id804247934?mt=8> (only on iPhone for the present, intended shortly to on Android) is entirely free and was designed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs for Veterans, Service members and others who are in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) with a mental health professional and want to use an ACT App in conjunction with their therapy. It offers exercises, tools, information, and tracking logs so you can practice what you're learning in your daily life.

SmartQuit<http://2morrowinc.com/smoking-cessation.php> Just released in Australia, SmartQuit uses ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) exercises to help people quit smoking. Developed and tested at Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center<http://www.fhcrc.org/en/news/quest/2014-03/breaking-addiction--preventing-cancer.html>, SmartQuit is different than most smoking cessation programs. Smokers create a personal plan. They are then asked to become very aware of their urges to smoke. Lastly they learn new ways to think about those urges so that they can notice the urge to smoke, without acting on it. SmartQuit is also delivered completely over the privacy of your own smartphone. The Science based SmartQuit is the first smoking cessation "app" that has been tested in a randomized control trial. The preliminary trial was done with 198 smokers and suggests quit rates 2-3 times better than quitting on one's own.

buddhify<http://buddhify.com/> states it is "the most convenient, best value and most beautiful meditation app available today. Helping people around the world reduce stress, sleep better & be present in the midst of it all." Certainly is the best looking mindfulness app!


The Sleep School App<http://thesleepschool.org/insomnia-cure/products/> helps you practice The Sleep School sleep tools & techniques until you have mastered them for life.
The app delivers The Sleep School approach across its 5 core areas in a highly interactive audio-visual format.

Headspace<https://www.headspace.com/> is meditation made simple. Learn online, when you want, wherever you are, in just 10 minutes a day.
This is expensive, with a monthly subscription, which will add up over time.

Conscious<https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.makanstudios.conscious> This free Android only app suggests a different informal mindfulness task each day. You can set reminders to prompt you during the day and you are given the opportunity to report back on your progress each evening. An interesting aspect is that you get to see how many people have signed up to the task with you, creating a sense of community in using the app.

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