Written by an experienced educational and developmental psychologist, ACT for Treating Children offers clinicians clear, practical, brief, and developmentally appropriate strategies grounded in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to help children ages 5 to 12 learn effective coping skills, manage emotions, and bounce back from life's difficulties.
If you treat children struggling with mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, you know that approaches designed for adults do not work with younger clients. ACT for Treating Children presents skills grounded in evidence-based ACT to help children regulate emotions and cope with the inevitable ups and downs of life, and is suitable for clinicians with no prior knowledge of or training in ACT, as well as seasoned ACT clinicians.
This practical clinician’s guide outlines a simplified version of the ACT Hexaflex—a key component of this treatment model—called the Kidflex, to help young clients build resilience and psychological flexibility. You’ll also find detailed case studies, transcripts, activities, experiential exercises, worksheets, and session plans to help you develop the skillset you need to help children overcome disorders such as stress, anxiety and depression. Finally, you’ll find strategies for involving parents in treatment when appropriate, and enlisting them as ‘ACT coaches’ in the child’s therapy.
It can be difficult to know where to start when using ACT for individual therapy with children. That’s why the skills in this go-to guide are practical and easy-to-implement, can be done with children in both face-to-face therapy and online sessions, and are simple enough for children to put into practice in any setting—whether it’s at home, in school, or out in the world.
Tamar D. Black, PhD, is an educational and developmental psychologist in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. She is a school psychologist, and runs a private practice working with children, adolescents, young adults, and parents. She has extensive experience providing clinical supervision to early-career and highly experienced psychologists. She also provides training in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to clinicians and teachers in using ACT with children and adolescents, and using ACT in schools.
Foreword writer Russ Harris is a therapist and coach, and was a general practitioner before being introduced to ACT. Russ is a world-renowned ACT trainer, and is author of ACT Made Simple, The Happiness Trap, The Reality Slap, ACT with Love, and more.
“A beautifully written and comprehensive book that addresses every aspect of the use of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) methods with children. In addition to putting forth a treasure trove of new materials and new ideas, I love how it builds out classic ACT methods in ways that are thoroughly age-appropriate and yet recognizable, so that practitioners can follow Tamar’s lead and begin to apply other things they may know about ACT in creative new ways as well. A transformational book that every practitioner who works with children should have at arm’s reach.” —Steven C. Hayes, PhD, Nevada Foundation Professor in the department of psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno; and originator of ACT
~Steven C. Hayes, PhD
“Tamar Black wrote ACT for Treating Children to be the book she wished was available when she first started using ACT with children. She has created a book that is an absolute must, not just for clinicians new to ACT, but also experienced ACT therapists. This book is highly informative, full of clinical tips and practical advice, and is an interesting read from start to finish. Highly recommended!” —Kirk Strosahl, PhD, cofounder of ACT, and coauthor of The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Depression
~Kirk Strosahl, PhD
“In this fascinating and important book, Tamar Black guides practitioners through how to help children gain insight into their minds and cultivate competencies that can promote well-being. Especially helpful are its extensive and clear descriptions of experiential work. Even if you are not an ACT therapist, the wealth of ideas is clearly written, easily understood, and of immense value. Anyone working with children will gain enormously from this book.” —Paul Gilbert, OBE, founder of compassion-focused therapy (CFT), and author of The Compassionate Mind
~Paul Gilbert, OBE
“ACT for Treating Children is a clear, thorough, and deeply pragmatic guide for applying ACT with children. The book contains a wealth of clinical experience, getting into the nuances of how to utilize ACT with children in a way that anticipates and answers common questions that clinicians are likely to have! An excellent resource for all therapists who work with children.” —Russell Kolts, professor of psychology at Eastern Washington University, and author of CFT Made Simple and The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Managing Your Anger
“What a wonderful book! As an experienced supervisor and trainer of ACT, I was deeply impressed by how adeptly Tamar Black has keyed into frequent points of confusion and misunderstanding. This book is both a phenomenal introduction to ACT and its therapeutic stance, as well as the book I always wish I had to share with child psychologists in training. The clear guidance on conceptualization and child-appropriate questions for assessment are bright spots throughout.” —Matthew D. Skinta, PhD, ABPP, assistant professor of psychology at Roosevelt University, and author of Contextual Behavior Therapy for Sexual and Gender Minority Clients
~Matthew D. Skinta, PhD, ABPP
“This book has great practical application, with easy-to-understand descriptions of developmentally appropriate case conceptualization, technique, and stance. There are wonderful examples, including a helpful section on working with parents. The accompanying worksheets help concretize metaphor and experiential exercises, which is essential for this age group. This protocol-like book will be very useful for individuals new to ACT or new to ACT with youth. I highly recommend it!” —Amy R. Murrell, PhD, licensed psychologist, peer-reviewed ACT trainer, ACBS fellow, author of the Becca Epps series, and coauthor of The Joy of Parenting
~Amy R. Murrell, PhD
“This is a wonderfully practical book—from the delightful Kidflex to worksheets to important suggestions that will make anyone a better therapist with any client. This book will be a lifesaver for people wading into doing ACT with kids. It is truly an essential guide for anyone wishing to bring ACT to their work with children, and for seasoned ACT clinicians who want to hone their craft.” —Christopher McCurry, PhD, author of Parenting Your Anxious Child with Mindfulness and Acceptance, and coauthor of The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Teen Anxiety
~Christopher McCurry, PhD
“A long-overdue and much-needed book, ACT For Treating Children provides a step-by-step Kidflex model for teaching the heart of ACT to children in an approachable, compassionate, and very helpful way. If you work with children, you need this wonderful book.” —Janina Scarlet, PhD, award-winning author of Superhero Therapy
~Janina Scarlet, PhD
“In ACT for Treating Children, Tamar Black provides a refreshing adaptation of ACT to the complex work of psychotherapy with kids. Tamar Black brings substantial clinical experience to bear in accessible theoretical adaptations to the psychological flexibility model, immediately actionable technologies, and easy-to-follow guidelines for the therapist’s stance—all with well-contextualized examples. Reading this book will benefit any child therapist interested in doing transformative work with children.” —Emily K. Sandoz, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and coauthor of The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Bulimia
~Emily K. Sandoz, PhD
“Written by an expert on ACT, Tamar Black, ACT for Treating Children provides an all-inclusive guide on how to implement ACT with children. This book fills a void in the ACT literature. Reading this book greatly expanded my ACT repertoire, and it will do the same for you.” —Michael P. Twohig, PhD, professor at Utah State University, and coauthor of ACT in Steps