Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Depression

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 depression. Early outcome studies examined an acceptance-based therapy that did not include the commitment component of current ACT.


Key References (in reverse chronological order)

Forman, E. M., Herbert, J. D., Moitra, E., Yeomans, P. D., & Geller, P. A. (2007). A randomized controlled effectiveness trial of acceptance and commitment therapy and cognitive therapy for anxiety and depression. Behavior Modification, 31, 772-799.

Hayes, S.C., Masuda, A., Bissett, R., & Luoma, J., & Guerrero, L. F. (2004). DBT, FAP, and ACT: How empirically-oriented are the new behavior therapy technologies? Behavior Therapy, 35, 35-54.

Zettle, R. D., & Rains, J. C. (1989). Group cognitive and contextual therapies in treatment of depression. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45, 436-445.

Zettle, R. D., & Hayes, S. C. (1986). Dysfunctional control by client verbal behavior: The context of reason giving. Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 4, 30-38.


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.

Zettle, R. D. (2007). ACT for depression: A clinician’s guide to using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in treating depression. NY: New 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. (2011). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: An experiential approach to behavior change (2nd Edition). 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.