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The Heart of ACT
Developing a Flexible, Process-Based, and Client-Centered Practice Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Average: 4.1 (19 votes)
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In The Heart of ACT, renowned acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) trainer Robyn Walser explores ACT as a process-based therapy incorporating interpersonal, intrapersonal, and overarching and ongoing processes, as well as the integration of six core components of psychological flexibility to connect clinicians to the dynamic and relational implementation of ACT.

Engaging clinical scenarios, therapeutic insights, and supervision dialogues are offered to help clinicians move beyond their conceptual understanding of ACT principles to master the nuances of the therapeutic relationship at the heart of ACT. Using the tips and strategies in this professional guide, you’ll develop a flexible, grounded, and client-centered practice.

With this comprehensive resource, you’ll learn to cultivate an organic, process-driven practice, grounded in the heart of the therapeutic relationship and responsive to clients in the moment. The Heart of ACT is designed to mimic the supervision experience by presenting material in thought-provoking chapters grounded in real-life clinical situations and challenges.

In the book, you’ll also find supervision dialogues inspired by Walser's work with her supervisees, Carlton Coulter and Manuela O’Connell. Carlton and Manuela comment and ask questions related to the material in the book and their own ACT learning process. These are then addressed by Walser in a dialogue designed to assist clinicians in connecting to the material. These sections mimic the helpful mentoring process of one-on-one training and supervision, and offer insights into specific therapeutic challenges that can unfold in structured conversation.

As the applications of ACT grow, so does the need for up-to-date professional resources. Unlike many advanced ACT books that focus on procedures and techniques, The Heart of ACT focuses on the heart of the therapeutic relationship, as well as the “soft skills” that are difficult to describe, but which often mark the difference between a merely good clinician and an excellent one. If you’re looking to take your ACT delivery to a new, exciting level, this book is a must-have addition to your professional library.

Publisher Reviews
  • “Destined to become a classic in the field, this skillfully written book on how to make fluency and mastery of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) possible is simply amazing. Get it and learn from one of the best.”
    —Ole Taggaard Nielsen, ClinPsyD, Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS) peer-reviewed ACT trainer at ACT Klinikken in Denmark


  • “In this intriguing book, Robyn shares wisdom gained from many years of clinical practice and teaching. The result is profound guidance for clinicians, researchers, and trainers exploring the interwoven threads of fidelity, competence, and mastery in the practice of ACT.”
    Patti Robinson, PhD, and Kirk Strosahl, PhD, cofounders of focused ACT, and coauthors of Real Behavior Change in Primary Care and Brief Interventions for Radical Change


  • The Heart of ACT is exactly that—a guide to the essential therapeutic process at the core of ACT. While other volumes focus on theory and technique, Walser illuminates the moment-to-moment opportunities, choices, and experiences that drive growth and change. Through her clinical scenarios, supervision dialogues, and incisive analysis of the treatment process, we are shown, in dazzling clarity, how a master clinician practices ACT.”
    Matthew McKay, PhD, coauthor of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Interpersonal Problems


  • “The heart and wisdom of ACT, and the importance of creating meaning in every moment, is embodied within every chapter. Filled with insight, depth, grace, and clear steps for bridging the gap between conceptual understanding of ACT and its flexible implementation, Robyn Walser writes with compassionate urgency and expertise gleaned not only from decades of work with clients, but also from her own personal journey. Readers are routinely invited to consider their own experiences and to engage in personal reflections. This rich therapeutic volume is a must-read for anyone who wants to grow as a clinician.”
    Robert J. Kohlenberg, PhD, ABPP, and Mavis Tsai, PhD, cocreators of functional analytic psychotherapy (FAP)


  • The Heart of ACT is the book I have been waiting for: a book for professionals that speaks to the relationship between the client and therapist, written by a therapist that works with clients regularly. Robyn Walser is a master therapist, and this book allows the reader to step inside her work and learn. It not only helps the reader understand their clients better, it also helps the reader understand themselves and their own behavior in the therapy room. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to learn to do therapy ‘from the feet up.’”
    Louise Hayes, PhD, clinical psychologist and senior fellow, University of Melbourne and Orygen Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health; and coauthor of The Thriving Adolescent and Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life for Teens


  • “If you have been fortunate enough to be one of the many thousands of attendees of Robyn’s workshops, you almost certainly walked away inspired and in awe of her ability to rapidly get to the heart of the matter in therapy. In this book, Robyn shares of herself and her wisdom. It feels like she is personally there guiding you on your ACT journey, grounding you in process, helping you connect with your heart, and inspiring you to mastery. If you are looking for a book to take your ACT work to the next level, this is the book.”
    Jenna LeJeune, PhD, and Jason Luoma, PhD, cofounders of Portland Psychotherapy; peer-reviewed ACT trainers; and coauthors of Values in Therapy; Luoma is also coauthor of Learning ACT


  • The Heart of ACT is a crucial book for any and every ACT therapist. Robyn Walser goes beyond looking at ACT in terms of simple therapy tools to find the heartfelt, compassionate, and deep core of ACT processes. This book breathes life into the ACT therapy relationship, straight from the heart.”
    Dennis Tirch, PhD, and Laura Silberstein-Tirch, PsyD, Dennis Tirch is founder of The Center for Compassion Focused Therapy, associate clinical professor at Mount Sinai, and author of The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Overcoming Anxiety; Laura Silberstein-Tirch is a clinical psychologist, director of The Center for Compassion Focused Therapy, adjunct assistant professor at Albert Einstein School of Medicine, and author of How to Be Nice to Yourself


  • “I can think of no better person to examine the heart of ACT than Robyn Walser. I’ve had the privilege of calling Robyn a close friend and colleague for over twenty years, and have long appreciated her formidable talents as an ACT therapist, supervisor, consultant, and trainer. She is all heart—bringing a rare combination of clinical acumen, compassion, and unflinching honesty to her work. This generous book is no exception. It is accessible, on point, and extremely well written. Its unique format offers a rare window into how a master clinician approaches the therapy, and guides others through the many challenges and nuances that arise. I highly recommend it as a must-read for anyone interested in developing and refining their ACT skills—and their heart.”
    Darrah Westrup, PhD, is in private practice in Durango, CO; and author of Advanced Acceptance and Commitment Therapy


  • “Up your ACT game with the Therapy Whisperer herself. Robyn Walser’s words of wisdom will guide you on your own journey of experiential discovery as an ACT provider, a fellow human, and ultimately, a healer. In these pages, clinicians can finally begin to transcend the gap from conceptual understanding to experientially fluid application of ACT processes—from the inside out. As only Robyn Walser can, she will help you find therapeutic presence, with heart and wisdom.”
    Lara E. Fielding, PsyD, EdM, author of Mastering Adulthood, clinical psychologist, and adjunct professor at Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology


  • “At last, a book that articulates all the richness that exists between the lines of other ACT manuals and tutorials. Robyn Walser exemplifies the seamless marriage of being and doing, and The Heart of ACT illuminates her process, complete with experiential learning activities for deepening your own clinical expertise. This is the volume that has been missing from the ACT canon.”
    Jennifer L. Villatte, PhD, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and coauthor of Mastering the Clinical Conversation



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