What Does It Mean to Master ACT?

women talking on couch

​As a clinician, how do you go from feeling connected and moved by ACT, to fluidly implementing functional analysis and the six core processes into your sessions?

In Advanced Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: The Experienced Practitioner’s Guide to Optimizing Delivery, Darrah Westrup, PhD, describes three steps in the ACT learning curve.

In the Introduction phase, a clinician learns the basics of ACT. During the application phase, the clinician starts to apply ACT in the therapy room. In the third phase, the clinician is closest to mastery. Here, we will focus on the refinement phase, where clinicians focus on improving their skills in ACT.

Refinement Phase

In the refinement phase, the clinician continues to build skill in ACT. 

There is a point on this ACT learning curve where things jell. This point comes when the therapist can see how the processes relate to one another, to the client, and to psychological flexibility overall.

At this point, clinicians are able to work with core processes in a way that consistently moves clients forward. As their skill increases, they are increasingly able to recognize and work with ACT processes as they arise in session.

There is no endpoint or finite degree of competence that can be reached.

How long should you spend continuing to build skills in ACT before you can be considered a master? 

If there’s no limit to strive for in ACT, is it impossible to ever master it?

See also: Staying Faithful to the Heart of ACT

Mastering ACT is about the necessary self-work it takes to connect with those who are suffering.

Suffering is part of the human experience; the behavioral processes informing ACT apply to human beings in general.

According to Robyn D. Walser, PhD, part of mastering ACT is incorporating its principles into your life. So what does that look like?

A huge part of mastering ACT is the ability to express compassion with your clients. When you can place yourself in the same difficult role as your clients, when you can go back and live your life with a sense of joy and connection, you’re closer to mastering ACT. 

At her upcoming ACT III: Mastering ACT online training, Robyn Walser, PhD, will show you how to use ACT techniques to address your clients’ unique challenges and work through barriers on a session-by-session basis. 

In her ACT III training, Robyn goes into depth about how to be an example of self-compassion while living your values in the face of whatever distressing thing might be happening to you. She shows you how to use ACT techniques to make a heartfelt connection with your clients and intervene with multi-problem patients who are dealing with a number of life issues. 

Take Your ACT Skills to the Next Level at ACT III: Mastering ACT!