Experiencing ACT from the Inside Out

A Self-Practice/Self-Reflection Workbook for Therapists

Dennis Tirch, Laura R. Silberstein-Tirch, R. Trent Codd III, Martin J. Brock, and M. Joann Wright

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September 2, 2019
ISBN 9781462540655
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256 Pages
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ISBN 9781462540648
Price: $35.00
256 Pages
Size: 8" x 10½"
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256 Pages
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From leading acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) practitioners, this experiential training workbook invites therapists to broaden and strengthen their ACT skills through deep engagement with ACT theory and techniques. Everyone from beginning therapists to seasoned ACT practitioners can enhance their work through self-practice/self-reflection (SP/SR), a cutting-edge, evidence-based training method. Through a systematic process, readers learn how to effectively apply ACT to a personal or professional challenge and reflect on the experience. Fifteen step-by-step modules are illustrated with vivid examples from the authors' own SP/SR journeys. In a large-size format for easy photocopying, the book includes 17 reproducible worksheets and over 3 hours of audio exercises. Purchasers get access to a companion website where they can download the audio exercises as well as printable copies of the worksheets.

This title is part of the Self-Practice/Self-Reflection Guides for Psychotherapists Series, edited by James Bennett-Levy.

“The deep message of this book is that therapists are human beings too. Like our clients, we therapists thrive when we are better able to think freely, feel fully, and focus on bringing meaning and purpose into our lives. This book shows how ACT can be used to guide that journey. Instead of just 'talking the talk,' this book asks us as clinicians to 'walk the walk'—to apply the change processes targeted by ACT to challenges we face. Increasing our psychological flexibility is important not just for ourselves, but also for our clients.”

—Steven C. Hayes, PhD, codeveloper of ACT; Foundation Professor of Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno

“Thoughtfully structured, the book immerses readers in experiential learning, which is essential to competent and skilled use of ACT. Numerous exercises for clinicians to try 'from the inside out' are coupled with gentle and wise guidance from the authors. This book is a 'must have' for clinicians and clinical training programs interested in making a profound difference in the lives of those they serve.”

—Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Director, New England Center for OCD and Anxiety

“ACT therapists strive to intentionally and open-heartedly contact the pain, challenge, and joy that characterize mindful, values-consistent living. Cultivating this stance—an essential ACT competency—is both deeply transformational and challenging. Experiencing ACT from the Inside Out provides a roadmap for novice ACT therapists, seasoned practitioners hoping to deepen their practice, and experienced trainers guiding new therapists in their development. Informed by the growing research demonstrating the benefits of SP/SR on therapist skills, and their personal experiences as ACT therapists and trainers, the authors have produced a much-needed guide that students, clinicians, and educators will find invaluable.”

—Susan M. Orsillo, PhD, Department of Psychology, Suffolk University

“I recommend this compassionate, thoughtful book to all psychotherapists interested in developing their ACT clinical skills. As an experiential and process-based intervention, ACT is not simply taught to clients, it is shared with them. This kind of shared relating requires the clinician not only to understand theory and technique, but to be fully present and alive in deeply personal therapeutic interactions. SP/SR is a superb method for doing the kind of personal work needed to embody ACT—to support clients in creating personal meaning and making values-based change.”

—Robyn D. Walser, PhD, private training, consultation, and psychotherapy practice, Menlo Park, California; Co-Director, Bay Area Trauma Recovery Clinic

“Self-reflection is a vital part of effectively using acceptance-based strategies in clinical practice. In this engaging, practice-based workbook, expert ACT clinicians provide an in-depth exploration of the approach. Both novice and experienced clinicians will benefit from the many exercises and the vulnerable, human examples provided by the authors.”

—Lizabeth Roemer, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts Boston

Table of Contents

I. The ACT SP/SR Approach

1. Introducing Experiencing ACT from the Inside Out sample

2. The Conceptual Framework

3. Guidance for Participants

4. Guidance for Facilitators

II. The ACT SP/SR Program

Section A: Facing the Challenge

Module 1. Identifying and Formulating a Challenging Problem

Module 2. ACT SP/SR Challenge Formulation

Module 3. The Psychological Flexibility Model

Module 4. The ACT Matrix

Section B: Centered

Module 5. Contacting the Present Moment

Module 6. Self-as-Context

Module 7. Flexible Perspective Taking

Section C: Open

Module 8. Defusion

Module 9. Acceptance

Section D: Engaged

Module 10. Values Authorship

Module 11. Commitment, Part I: Determining Goals and Barriers to Commitment

Module 12. Commitment, Part II: Cultivating Our Ability to Engage

Section E: Compassionate

Module 13. ACT and Compassion

Module 14. Compassion and Empathic Distress Fatigue

Module 15. Maintaining and Enhancing the Cultivation of Psychological Flexibility

Audio Downloads

1. Centering 6:11

2. Self-Practice with Acceptance 8:19

3. Self-Practice Contacting the Present Moment 6:31

4. Self-Practice with Self-as-Context 10:27

5. Self-Practice with Values Authorship 10:59

6. Self-Practice with Committed Action 7:54

7. Contacting Present-Moment Experience in ACT SP/SR 14:04

8. The Ocean of Being 22:00

9. Time Travel 11:28

10. Externalizing the Thought 8:06

11. Dropping the Rope: Letting Go of the Tug-of-War with Our Private Events 14:20

12. What Do I Want My Life to Stand For? 14:28

13. Exposure 21:32

14. Practicing MCA 15:00

15. Compassion Circulation 9:36

About the Authors

Dennis Tirch, PhD, is Founder of the Center for Compassion Focused Therapy in New York City and Associate Clinical Professor in the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. He is author or coauthor of numerous books, chapters, and peer-reviewed articles on acceptance and commitment therapy, compassion-focused therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and Buddhist psychology. His books include Buddhist Psychology and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Experiencing ACT from the Inside Out. Dr. Tirch is President of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS) and the Compassionate Mind Foundation USA. He provides online and in-person workshops and trainings globally in mindfulness-, compassion-, and acceptance-based interventions. Dr. Tirch is a Fellow of ACBS and a Fellow and Trainer/Consultant of the Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies. He is a member of the Zen Garland sangha and a lay teacher of Buddhism.

Laura R. Silberstein-Tirch, PsyD, is Director of the Center for Compassion Focused Therapy and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. Dr. Silberstein-Tirch is a clinical supervisor and compassion-focused therapy (CFT) trainer who presents internationally on mindfulness and compassion. She is coauthor of books including Buddhist Psychology and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Experiencing ACT from the Inside Out. Dr. Silberstein-Tirch is President of the New York City chapter of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science and Executive Director of The Compassionate Mind Foundation USA. Her research interests include psychological flexibility and emotions as well as CFT for anxiety and depression.

R. Trent Codd, III, EdS, BCBA, is Executive Director of the Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Center of Western North Carolina in Asheville, where he treats a broad range of clinical concerns. He has particular interest in refractory depression and obsessive–compulsive spectrum disorders. Mr. Codd is a charter member of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science and a Fellow and Trainer/Consultant of the Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies. He is coauthor of Teaching and Supervising Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and editor of Practice-Based Research: A Guide for Clinicians.

Martin J. Brock, MSc, MA, RMN, is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Counselling and Psychotherapy and Program Leader for the Postgraduate Certificate in Compassion Focused Therapy at the University of Derby, United Kingdom. Mr. Brock has had a long career in the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, practicing and supervising evidence-based psychotherapies. He has advanced training and experience in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based CBT, compassion-focused therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Mr. Brock has served as president of the United Kingdom and Ireland chapter of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science; was a founding member of the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies ACT special interest group; and was the first peer-reviewed ACT trainer in the United Kingdom. As an ACT trainer and supervisor, Mr. Brock has regularly delivered workshops globally since 2006.

M. Joann Wright, PhD, is a clinical psychologist with the Linden Oaks Medical Group in Naperville, Illinois. Dr. Wright is a peer-reviewed trainer in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and a Fellow of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science. Dr. Wright has provided ACT training to doctoral students and therapists nationally and internationally since 2008. She is dedicated to teaching and delivering ACT to help people reduce suffering in their lives. Dr. Wright is coauthor of Learning ACT for Group Treatment: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Skills Training Manual for Therapists.


Therapists of all levels of experience, including clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, counselors, and psychiatric nurses.

Course Use

May serve as a supplemental text in graduate-level courses.