Introduction to ACT in Trauma Work

CE Hours available ( How do I get my CE? )
Robyn Walser, PhD Renowned author, researcher, and master ACT trainer

About This Course

Help clients break through experiential avoidance

Most practitioners have seen the effects of trauma in clients first-hand.

The painful emotional experiences found in trauma’s fallout can leave clients feeling trapped, and can lead to symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety, among other mental health issues that make it difficult to function.

In an attempt to cope with these issues, many clients try to regain control by suppressing distressing responses to intrusive thoughts and ongoing feelings of fear and sadness.

But often, their attempts to control and avoid difficult emotions and thoughts result in further suffering.

This avoidance can also cause clients to become resistant to new solutions, mired in inaction, and entangled in self-judgement and rule-based thinking. They can even dissociate completely from their experiences.

Because of this, trying to navigate clients out of these patterns can sometimes feel like it’s going nowhere.

You may have experienced this kind of resistance in the therapy room yourself when working with clients who have experienced trauma. Guiding clients into painful experiences, even in the service of healing and growth, can be difficult to do.

The fear of causing clients more harm by dragging them through painful experiences can leave you feeling stuck and unsure how to progress.

In order to dismantle avoidance more effectively, you need a framework that allows you to confidently step into a session knowing you can help clients safely navigate painful experiences.

And, you need the tools to take the next step: building a treatment approach that will help realign your clients’ thoughts and actions with their core values.

This is why acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is so well-suited to working with trauma.

As an antidote to avoidance, ACT seeks to reduce rigid attempts to control negative emotions by fostering acceptance through mindfulness and defusion techniques (noticing and recognizing thoughts as they occur).

As clients living with trauma learn to stay present with their experiences, ACT can help them reduce the impact of triggers, define personal values, and commit to taking actions guided by those values.

By integrating ACT into your trauma work, you can help guide clients to real and lasting change, and empower them to revitalize their lives.

Inside the Course

This two-part course offers an effective new format for applying ACT in your practice, focusing on building a foundational understanding of ACT, and then applying these fundamentals to your work with trauma.

The first portion of the course will introduce you to the core ACT concepts and teach you how to approach and develop clients’ psychological flexibility, or the ability to stay in the present moment even in the presence of painful thoughts and emotions.

You’ll also learn to employ a variety of verbal and experiential processes and techniques to assist clients in making life-enhancing choices based on personally held values.

The second portion of the course will focus on how to utilize an ACT approach to treat trauma specifically. You’ll learn techniques to break through therapeutic resistance, and understand how to use self-as-context to assist clients with their relationship to traumatic memories.

Through experiential exercises designed to refine your ACT skills, you’ll learn to utilize the therapeutic stance and the therapeutic relationship in the context of trauma.

Through this course you’ll develop a broad functional approach to treatment, emphasizing motivation and values-based strategies, and will gain powerful tools to help clients living with trauma regain vitality and meaning in life.

This training is co-sponsored by the Iowa Psychological Association. Attendees must complete the course in full and attend all sessions in order to receive ANY continuing education credit. No partial credit will be given.

This training is co-sponsored by the Iowa Psychological Association.

Attendees must complete the course in full and attend all sessions in order to receive ANY continuing education credit. No partial credit will be given.


Session 1 | Friday, April 9, 2021, 10 AM—2 PM EDT

Session 2 | Saturday, April 10, 2021, 10 AM—1 PM EDT

Session 3 | Friday, April 23, 2021, 10 AM—2 PM EDT

Session 4 | Saturday, April 24, 2021, 10 AM—1 PM EDT

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Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:
  1. Describe the role of language in human suffering.
  2. Describe the role of fusion, evaluation, avoidance and reason-giving participate in mental health difficulties.
  3. Describe how ACT can be used for intervening with multi-problem patients dealing with a number of life issues.
  4. List the benefits of mindfulness as a practice as well as an ongoing process during session, including how it can be used to cultivate compassion.
  5. Describe what is meant by defusion and its therapeutic advantage.
  6. Describe willingness to experience and its relationship to exposure.
  7. Describe self-as-context and how it promotes psychological flexibility.
  8. Describe the role of values in therapy and their motivational nature.
  9. Describe how to develop doable and reasonable committed actions linked to values.
  10. Describe what is meant by therapeutic presence from an ACT perspective.
  11. Describe the impact of trauma and the role of language in the falsehood of orderliness.
  12. Describe how self-as-context can assist with the relationship to memories for those who have experienced trauma.
  13. Describe how to use willingness and defusion in approaches to exposure for trauma.
  14. Describe how values are violated and re-engaged in trauma fallout
  15. Describe committed actions linked to in-vivo exposure in the treatment of trauma
  16. Describe the fallout of trauma and its impact on psychological flexibility

Continuing Education

Please review complete CE and conflict-of-interest disclosure information prior to registering. This course is jointly sponsored by Praxis CET and Institute for Better Health (IBH) and is approved for 14 CE Hours by the following:

  • BACB – Behavior Analysts
  • NBCC – National Counselors
  • NAADAC – Drug & Alcohol Counselors
  • WESPSB – Educators
  • ACCME – Physicians
  • ANCC – Nurses
  • APA - Psychologist: Institute for Better Health, Inc is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to offer continuing education for psychologists. Institute for Better Health, Inc maintains responsibility for the program and its content.
  • NY State – Psychologists, Counselors and Social Workers




Mental Health Professionals (psychologists, social workers, nurse practitioners, psychiatrists) Intermediate level

Recommended Reading

Luoma, J., Hayes, S. C., & Walser, R. D. (2017). Learning ACT 2nd Ed. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.


Gloster, A. T., Walder, N., Levin, M., Twohig, M., & Karekla, M. (2020). The Empirical Status of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: A Review of Meta-Analyses. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science.

Wharton, E., Edwards, K. S., Juhasz, K., & Walser, R. D. (2019). Acceptance-based interventions in the treatment of PTSD: Group and individual pilot data using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 14, 55-64.

Thompson, B. L., Luoma, J. B., & LeJeune, J. T. (2013). Using acceptance and commitment therapy to guide exposure-based interventions for posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 43(3), 133-140.

Refund and Cancellation Policy

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.