Acceptance and Commitment Training

Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

By Emily Sandoz & Evelyn Gould

Over the past few years, a number of behavior analysts have become interested in psychological flexibility, or behavioral flexibility, as an important dimension of human behavior. As a result, an increasing number of practicing behavior analysts have sought to integrate Acceptance and Commitment Training, which directly targets behavioral flexibility, into the applied behavior analysis services they provide.

Consistent with the behaviorally based psychotherapy approach, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999; 2012), Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) aims to increase behavioral flexibility, or sensitivity of the behavioral repertoire to changing contexts in such a way as to foster values-consistent, goal-directed responding. In this way, ACT offers behavioral flexibility as a fundamental aspect of human health and well-being (see Kashdan & Rottenberg, 2010), contrasted with the inflexibility that characterizes repertoires dominated by rule-governed aversive control (Levin, Hayes, & Vilardaga, 2012). As applied behavior analysis grows in popularity and expands into new settings and domains, behavior analysts are increasingly confronted with behavioral repertoires dominated by persistent avoidance, excessive rule governance, and subsequent difficulty building effective, personally meaningful repertoires. ACT offers a theoretically consistent, empirically based approach to directly addressing this challenge by incorporating flexibility into assessment and intervention.

The Acceptance and Commitment Training SIG was approved to affiliate with ABAI in 2018 with the mission to bring together professionals who have an interest in exploring and disseminating the application of Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) within the training and delivery of applied behavior analytic services. The ACT SIG held its first election, and is pleased to announce new board members, the first elected by the membership:

  • Evelyn Gould, president
  • Siri Ming, president-elect
  • Nelly Dixon, manager
  • Meredith Andrews, treasurer
  • Dana Paliliunas, member-at-large
  • Adam Hahs, member-at-large
  • Alison Szarko, student representative
  • Emily Sandoz, past president

With the goals of creating a sustainable leadership structure and clarifying primary activities of the SIG consistent with the mission, the board has continued efforts to advance the mission and objectives of the SIG. The board participated in the 2020 ABAI conference online by disseminating information about the SIG at the Expo, attending the Leadership Training, and organizing and executing the first SIG Business Meeting. In 2020, the ACT SIG also established dues ($15) and transferred membership services to ABAI. Seventy-six people have joined the SIG since that time, and the Board is hoping to continue to expand outreach to meet the needs of more ABAI members with an interest in Acceptance and Commitment Training.

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