Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Psychosis

Status: Modest Research Support


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a behavioral therapy that is based on Relational Frame Theory, a theory of how human language influences experience and behavior. ACT aims to change the relationship individuals have with their own thoughts, feelings, memories, and physical sensations that are feared or avoided. Acceptance and mindfulness strategies are used to teach patients to decrease avoidance, attachment to cognitions, and increase focus on the present. Patients learn to clarify their goals and values and to commit to behavioral change strategies. This treatment has been applied to a number of conditions, including psychosis.

By design ACT for psychosis does not directly target reduction of psychosis symptoms; rather, ACT aims to improve the ability to cope with psychotic symptoms and to reduce distress associated with psychotic symptoms.

Key References (in reverse chronological order)

Bach, P., Hayes, S. C. & Gallop, R. (2012). Long term effects of brief Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for psychosis. Behavior Modification, 36, 165-181.

White, R., Gumley, A., McTaggart, J., Rattrie, L., McConville, D., Cleare, S., & Mitchell, G. (2011). A feasibility study of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for emotional dysfunction following psychosis. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 49, 901-907.

Gaudiano, B.A., & Herbert, J.D. (2006). Acute treatment of inpatients with psychotic symptoms using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44, 415-437.

Bach, P. & Hayes, Steven C. (2002). The use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to prevent the rehospitalization of psychotic patients: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70 (5), 1129-1139.

Clinical Resources

Luoma, J. B., Hayes, S. C., & Walser, R. D. (2007). Learning ACT: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy skills-training manual for therapists. NY: Harbinger Publications.

Hayes, S. C. (2005). Get out of your mind and into your life: The new Acceptance and Commitment therapy. NY: New Harbinger Publications.

Hayes, S. C., & Strosahl, K. D. (2005). A practical guide to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. NY: Springer Science.

Hayes. S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G. (2003). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: An experiential approach to behavior change. NY: Guilford.

Training Opportunities

The Association for Contextual Behavioral Science website provides a full listing of resources and training opportunities, including books and clinical tools.