ACT and the Therapeutic Relationship

ACT and the Therapeutic Relationship

Context and Function Inside Rich Therapeutic Exchange

CE Hours available

Think back to the last time you felt fulfilled after a session with a client. A time when you both left feeling inspired and confident.

What special factor made that particular session so life-affirming?

Did you remember the correct exercises? Answer your client’s questions perfectly?

Or was it something else — something deeper — that made the time with your client so meaningful?

On some level, every acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) practitioner knows that effective implementation requires more than just theoretical knowledge and application skills. There’s something essential in the human-to-human interaction between you and your client that makes ACT work.

But while theories and exercises can be memorized and applied through techniques, this third, more abstract component of ACT can feel more like a dance.

This critical piece of the ACT puzzle has more to do with your own presence and therapeutic stance than with concepts or protocols.

At its base, it’s rooted in the way you embody psychological flexibility in the room, which has an undeniable effect on the interpersonal relationship and the direction of your work together. 

In practicing awareness, you can grasp more context surrounding a client’s behavior, including how their behavior is being shaped or even maintained in therapy.

By taking a stance of openness, you can respond with intention when a client says something challenging, while also encouraging acceptance in the client.

And in leading with your values, you can create a caring and trusting environment that supports conversations that are hard but necessary.

This is part of a broader approach through which the entire therapeutic relationship — rather than individual exercises or interventions — becomes the stage on which the core ACT processes unfold.

Cultivating this flexible and open dynamic requires a consistent willingness to show up for your clients’ growth, as well as your own.

And within the space you create by showing up to your sessions with that vulnerability and understanding, you can foster deeper connection and an environment that shapes flexibility. 

That’s the space where possibilities for change — real change — open up. 

About the Course

If you want to learn more about creating this space for your clients, you’re invited to our live online course ACT and the Therapeutic Relationship.

During four weekly sessions, expert trainers Dr. Robyn Walser and Lic. Manuela O’Connell will examine how you can deepen your connection with clients and enhance your efficacy through your therapeutic stance.

The course will explore how you can apply the ACT tools you already have to help you respond more flexibly and creatively with each client as you increase your capacity to connect and respond effectively in the moment.

You’ll learn to…

  • Maintain awareness of your inner experience without losing sight of the client’s needs so that you can build a deeper, richer connection
  • Lead with willingness and values — because your own reactions can shape client behavior just as much as planned exercises 
  • Foster a trusting and flexible environment where you and the client are both practicing openness and creating a space for healing
  • Rethink therapeutic ruptures from a functional perspective to transform discouraging moments into opportunities to build rapport and discover new avenues for growth

You’ll come away from this course with a renewed sense that you are not simply prescribing cures, but rather creating a genuine relationship with another human — and working side by side with them to foster positive change.

This training offers 8 CE hours if attended live. We can only provide CE to those who are present via Zoom for the live sessions. However, the sessions will be recorded and available to watch later. Registrants may access these recordings at any time for up to nine months after the live training ends.

Before registering, please review conflict of interest disclosures and complete CE information here.

Session 1 | November 28, 2023, 4:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m. EST
The ACT Therapeutic Stance
The Arc of Therapy: Relationship and Process Over Time

Session 2 | December 5, 2023, 4:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m. EST
ACT Therapeutic Relationship: Intrapersonal Processes
Intrapersonal Experiential Practice

Session 3 | December 12, 2023, 4:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m. EST
ACT Therapeutic Relationship: Interpersonal Processes
Interpersonal Experiential Practice

Session 4 | December 19, 2023, 4:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m. EST
ACT Therapeutic Relationship: Rupture and Repair
Rupture and Repair Experiential Practice

Participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the therapeutic stance from an ACT perspective.
  2. Discuss how to use intrapersonal experience, integrating ACTs core processes, to enhance their therapy.
  3. Discuss how to use interpersonal process, integrating ACTs core processes, to enhance their therapy.
  4. Describe “therapeutic rupture” from an ACT perspective.
  5. Describe how paying attention to the dynamic and ongoing process of the relationship enhances case conceptualization.
  6. Describe the problems found in an ACT technique-focused intervention.

Please review complete CE and conflict-of-interest disclosure information prior to registering. This live online course is sponsored by Praxis Continuing Education and Training and is approved for 8 CE Hours by the following listed below. There was no commercial support for this activity. None of the planners or presenters for this educational activity have relevant financial relationship(s) to disclose with ineligible companies whose primary business is producing, marketing, selling, re-selling, or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients.

Praxis CET maintains responsibility for the program with the CE approvals outlined below:

Joint Accreditation: In support of improving patient care, Praxis Continuing Education and Training, Inc is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

IPCE: This activity was planned by and for the healthcare team, and learners will receive 8 Interprofessional Continuing Education (IPCE) credit for learning and change.

Nursing: Praxis Continuing Education and Training, Inc designates this activity for a maximum of 8 ANCC contact hours.

Physicians: Praxis Continuing Education and Training, Inc designates this live activity for a maximum of 8 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Psychologists: Continuing Education (CE) credits for psychologists are provided through the co-sponsorship of the American Psychological Association (APA) Office of Continuing Education in Psychology (CEP). The APA CEP Office maintains responsibly for the content of the programs.

Social Workers: As a Jointly Accredited Organization, Praxis Continuing Education and Training, Inc. is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved under this program. Regulatory boards are the final authority on courses accepted for continuing education credit. Social workers completing this course receive 8 clinical continuing education credits.

Drug and Alcohol Counselors: This course has been approved by Praxis Continuing Education and Training, Inc, as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider, for8 CE hours. NAADAC Provider #165310, Praxis Continuing Education and Training, Inc, is responsible for all aspects of its programming.

National Counselors: Praxis Continuing Education and Training, Inc. has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6759. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Praxis Continuing Education and Training, Inc. is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

Behavior Analysts: Praxis CET is an approved BACB ACE Provider # OP-17-2718.

NY Social Workers: Praxis Continuing Education and Training, Inc is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0467

NY Counselors: Praxis Continuing Education and Training, Inc. is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors. #MHC-0198.

NY Psychologists: Praxis Continuing Education and Training, Inc. is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Psychology as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed psychologists #PSY-0002.

NOTE: Many state boards accept offerings accredited by national or other state organizations. If your state is not listed, please check with your professional licensing board to determine whether the accreditations listed are accepted.

For mental health professionals, beginners through advanced

Walser, R. D., & O’Connell, M. (2021). Acceptance and commitment therapy and the therapeutic relationship: Rupture and repair. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 77(2), 429-440.

Walser, R. D., Karlin, B. E., Trockel, M., Mazina, B., & Taylor, C. B. (2013). Training in and implementation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for depression in the Veterans Health Administration: Therapist and patient outcomes. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 51(9), 555-563.

Gloster, A. T., Walder, N., Levin, M. E., Twohig, M. P., & Karekla, M. (2020). The empirical status of acceptance and commitment therapy: A review of meta-analyses. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 18, 181-192.

We understand, sometimes things come up!

Praxis will offer a full refund to registrants of both live and live-online trainings who cancel their registration up to 14 days before the course or workshop start date, minus an administrative processing fee of $30 for a 2-day workshop or online course, and a $50 fee for a 4-day workshop. If cancelled within 14 days, no refund will be issued, however, a credit for the same amount will be applied toward another learning product, which expires within 1 year. Please email us at to cancel a registration.