Problem Area: Chronic or Persistent Pain

EST Status: Strong Research SupportStrong: Support from two well-designed studies conducted by independent investigators.

Modest: Support from one well-designed study or several adequately designed studies.

Controversial: Conflicting results, or claims regarding mechanisms are unsupported.

Find a Therapist specializing in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Chronic Pain. List your practice

Brief Summary

  • Basic premise: By accepting and learning to live with pain, one can limit the control it exerts over his or her life.
  • Essence of therapy: This therapy guides individuals to change their expectations from the elimination of pain to living as well as possible with pain. Through metaphors and experiential exercises, individuals learn the futility of control-oriented strategies and the benefits of acceptance-oriented strategies in response to negative internal experiences such as pain and discomfort. Individuals are encouraged to explore their personal values and set goals consistent with those values in order to improve overall quality of life and functioning.
  • Length: approx. 8 sessions

Treatment Resources

Editors: Evan Forman, PhD; Joanna Kaye, BA

Note: The resources provided below are intended to supplement not replace foundational training in mental health treatment and evidence-based practice

Treatment Manuals / Outlines

Treatment Manuals
  • Life with Chronic Pain: Therapist Guide & Patient Workbook (Vowles & Sorrell)
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in the Treatment of Chronic Pain (Dahl & Lundgren; explanation and session example)
  • ACT for Chronic Pain (McCracken)
Books Available for Purchase Through External Sites

Measures, Handouts and Worksheets

  • Valued Living Questionnaire
  • Chronic Pain Values Inventory
  • Chronic Pain Acceptance Questionnaire-Revised
  • Psychological Inflexibility in Pain Scale
  • Committed Action Questionnaire-18
  • Committed Action Questionnaire-8
  • Committed Action Questionnaire-8 with scoring instructions


Self-help Books

Important Note: The books listed above are based on empirically-supported in-person treatments. They have not necessarily been evaluated empirically either by themselves or in conjunction with in-person treatment. We list them as a resource for clinicians who assign them as an adjunct to conducting in-person treatment.

Smartphone Apps

Clinical Trials



Meta-analyses and Systematic Reviews



Other Treatment Resources