Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a neurodiversity affirming behavioural therapy based built upon over 30 years worth of research on human language and behaviour and is an effective therapy for anxiety and a variety of other conditions.
ACT teaches us how to have a new perspective to our upsetting and difficult thoughts and feelings. It helps make thoughts and feelings that are upsetting or unhelpful less powerful and therefore less likely to hold us back from things that are important to us.
ACT teaches strategies such as mindfulness and goals setting through interactive activities and discussions and can be customized to fit a variety of developmental levels.
Elisa Hill M.Sc., BCBA has a Master of Science Degree in Behavior Analysis and Therapy and has been Board Certified as a Behavior Analyst since 2014.
Elisa was trained at Southern Illinois University in ACT and Verbal Behavior by Dr. Mark Dixon who is recognized as one of the most skilled programmers of behavior analysis research and data collection systems worldwide. Elisa co-authoried a thesis with Dr. Dixon showing the beneficial effects of ACT for children on the autism spectrum.
Elisa was also trained in ACT at an intensive 4-day workshop by world leaders in ACT including Dr. Steven Hayes. Dr. Hayes, one of the developers of ACT and the author of over 600 scientific articles, 40 books. Dr. Hayes has also been featured in a variety of popular publications such as Time Magazine and Oprah.
Your Behavior Analyst would personally select ACT activities for your child based on their developmental level, preferences, and learning style. Your BCBA would then coach you and your team on how to use ACT strategies with your child or teen.
ACT lessons could be done your child would occur during their typical ABA sessions or can be done by parents a couple of times a week when you have some free time. Activities generally include short experiments, discussions, crafts, or games that take between 5 and 15 minutes to do.
There is a lot of flexibility in how and when you can do these exercises. Your Behavior Consultant can help you figure out how best to incorporate these lessons so they are the best fit for you child and family.
ACT can be very helpful in areas that many people on the autism spectrum struggle with such as anxious thoughts, difficulty transitioning and perseverating on specific worries.
There is a lot of room for creativity on the part of the child in ACT therapy and this allows the child’s interests and own ideas to be incorporated into exercises.
There are 6 components of ACT and they all work together to increase what is called psychological flexibility. The exercises your child does with ACT will usually focus on one or two of the components at a time and future exercises build upon what was previously learned. The 6 components are:
Free video presentation from the National Autism Conference – “Act Training for Parents” by Dr. Mark Dixon
There are many great books on ACT such as: