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ACT at Work

Bringing the benefits of psychology to the Workplace

Acceptance Commitment Training (ACT), based on the clinical version - Acceptance and Commitment Therapy - is a robustly evidenced behavioural science based approach, designed for individuals, teams, and leaders, to gain an experiential understanding of psychological flexibility – a skill linked to improved resilience, wellbeing and performance. 

The modern workplace asks a lot of it's staff, including mastering a diverse range of skills, including, but not limited to, creative problem solving, decision making, and effective communication. What's more, the skills required in fast paced work environments can vary greatly from from one task to another, increasing stress and making us less effective, worsening our well-being, and leading to difficulties like burnout, lower attendance, and increased staff sickness.  


Research tells us that there are some clear skills that contribute to performance, and our wellbeing at work, including...

  • Openness to experience.  Avoidance, otherwise known as experiential avoidance, is the natural urge to escape, or avoid, unwanted, or unpleasant, thoughts and feelings. The most common way for this to occur is simply by avoiding situations or behaviours that may involve making contact with those unwanted thoughts and feelings.  In the short-term this helps people escape these unwanted experiences but research tells us that higher the level of experiential avoidance are associated worse performance, well-being, and quality of life, as people struggle to persist when things feel difficult, or engage in strategies to minimise their contact with these unwanted experiences, leasing to worse outcomes.  Conversely, the more open we are to our experiences the better our outcomes tend to be as we are better able to engage in effective action, even when difficult thoughts and feelings show up for us, reducing avoidance and increasing commitment to what matters to us.

  • Flexibility in our actions. The more open we are to our experiences the less rigid our behaviour tends to be.  Rigid and habitual behaviour is a serious barrier to improving performance and so improving our ability to act flexibly helps us to not only recognise when we should persist, and when we should change course, but actually follow through to become more effective in our actions.

  • Clarity on our goals and the values that underlie them. Knowing what we are trying to achieve is essential because it helps us to become sensitive to the effectiveness of our actions.  Gaining clarity on our values helps us to connect why the goals matter to us building intrinsic motivation to keep us on track.

There is now a large body of evidence that tells is that developing Psychological Flexibility helps with these essential skills by... 

  • Increasing focus, allowing us to concentrate on the task by becoming more aware of our attention and purposefully directing it to what matter to us in each moment.

  • Improving motivation by explicitly linking our actions to personally meaningful values and goals, increasing commitment towards our goals.

  • Increasing our ability to recognise when our behaviour needs to change, stepping out of rigid, habitual, and ineffective patterns, and towards more effective working.

In this training we will focus on developing the following, to build Psychological Flexibility...

  • Increasing awareness of the present moment. Much of our time we spend caught up in thoughts about the past or the future, about how things might be, or should be, and this can cause us to lose contact with what is actually happening in the present.  Increasing our sensitivity to the present, using what we observe with our 5 senses, can help us differentiate between what is happening in the here and now, and what our sometimes unreliable mind may tell us is happening.

  • Defusion – learning to notice our thoughts and to recognise them as thoughts, not facts, whenever it is useful to be able to do that, allowing us more choice on which thoughts to act on, and which to let go when they prove unhelpful. 

  • Committing to values-based actions – where the rubber meets the road. Psychological flexibility is only valuable if it helps us to actually act in ways that move us towards the things that matter to us, in our work and in our personal lives. Increasing awareness of our values builds motivation and, when combined with the other elements of psychological flexibility, helps us to take, and maintain, action even when it's hard to do so.


About Your Trainer

Christian Hughes is a BABCP Accredited Behavioural Psychotherapist, ACT specialist, and experienced trainer. He works both a senior Clinician and supervisor and delivers training on wellbeing and mental health to a range of organisations.


If you would like to know more about how ACT training could benefit your organisation, or to arrange a training, then please get in touch below.

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