DIAGNOSIS: Schizophrenia and Other Severe Mental Illnesses
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.
Editors:Matt Southward, PhD
Note: The resources provided below are intended to supplement not replace foundational training in mental health treatment and evidence-based practice
Treatment Manuals / Outlines
Luoma, J. B., Hayes, S. C., & Walser, R. D. (2007). Learning ACT: An acceptance and commitment therapy skills-training manual for therapists. New Harbinger Publications.
Hayes, S. C. (2005). Get out of your mind and into your life: The new acceptance and commitment therapy. New Harbinger Publications.
Hayes, S. C., & Strosahl, K. D. (2005). A practical guide to acceptance and commitment therapy. Springer Science.
Hayes. S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G. (2003). Acceptance and commitment therapy: An experiential approach to behavior change. NY: Guilford.
O’Donoghue, E. K., Morris, E. M. J., Oliver, J. E., & Johns, L. C. (2018). ACT for psychosis recovery: A practical manual for group-based interventions using acceptance and commitment therapy. Context Press/New Harbinger Publications.
Books Available for Purchase Through External Sites
Books on Acceptance & Commitment Therapy from the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science: https://contextualscience.org/books_tapes
Training Materials and Workshops
General ACT training resources from the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science: https://contextualscience.org/training
Measures, Handouts and Worksheets
ACT for Psychosis videos, worksheets, and mindfulness recordings: http://actforpsychosis.com/resources
General ACT video exercises and demonstrations from the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science: https://contextualscience.org/free_videos_learning_about_and_applying_act
Bach, P., Hayes, S. C. & Gallop, R. (2012). Long term effects of brief acceptance and commitment therapy for psychosis. Behavior Modification, 36, 165-181. https://doi.org/10.1177/0145445511427193
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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2011.09.003
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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2005.02.007
Bach, P. & Hayes, S. 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. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-006x.70.5.1129
Meta-analyses and Systematic Reviews
Morris, E. M. J., Johns, L. C., & Gaudiano, B. A. (2023). Acceptance and commitment therapy for psychosis: Current status, lingering questions and future directions. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, & Practice. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/papt.12479
Other Treatment Resources
General ACT audio exercises from the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science: https://contextualscience.org/free_audio
General readings on ACT from the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science: https://contextualscience.org/list_of_resources_for_learning_act
General ACT clinical tools from the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science: https://contextualscience.org/resources_for_clinicians