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ACT Made Simple: An Easy-To-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
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ACT Made Simple: An Easy-To-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  721 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Why is it so hard to be happy? Why is life so difficult? Why do humans suffer so much? And what can we realistically do about it? No matter how rewarding your job, as a mental health professional, you may sometimes feel helpless in the face of these questions. You are also well-aware of the challenges and frustrations that can present during therapy.

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Paperback, 263 pages
Published November 1st 2009 by New Harbinger Publications (first published 2009)
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Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: work, act


Clients have a hard time shifting from a problem-solving mode into a mindful appreciation mode.

ACT assumes that (a) quality of life is primarily dependent upon mindful, values-guided action, and (b) this is possible regardless of how many symptoms you have - provided that you respond to your symptoms with mindfulness.

ACT regards the mind as a double-edged sword. It's very useful for all sorts of purposes, but if we don't learn how to handle it effectively, it will hurt us.

The aim of ACT,
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am not a professional therapist. However, several very smart people I know have recommended ACT, so I read Russ Harris' book "The Happiness Trap" (intended for the general population). Although I am a strong proponent of mindfulness and I liked a lot of what Harris was saying, I also found "The Happiness Trap" to be glib, invalidating of the experiences of people who may be struggling with more serious conditions, and at points generally infuriating to the point of unreadable. Because I liked ...more
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
**Jump on in.**

I’m a fan of ACT.

I jumped on the ACT bandwagon after being introduced to it during a clinical training, and I’ve been riding it ever since. To me, the core philosophy of ACT just makes sense: be present, open up, and do what matters.

I’ve read several books on ACT, and this one stands out as the most concise and usable one. In addition to distilling ACT down to its essential components, it provides clinical transcripts and worksheets galore to help you jump right in to the ACTion.
Ian Felton
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I learned about ACT during my Counseling Theories graduate level course. I felt that it was something special--at least special in how it resonated with me.

Now I've read my first book on ACT and I'm more convinced that this is the theoretical orientation I will take in my career. Dr. Harris walks the novice through the basic concepts of ACT (not RFT, functional contextualism, or other philosophical concepts) using diagrams, worksheets, and sample dialogues with clients. This is a very practical
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
I appreciate the premise behind ACT, but the writing style was not for me. It’s conversational and convoluted, often taking much longer to say something than I found necessary.

It also bothers me when ACT writers or practitioners try to distance themselves from the original mindfulness practices that started this process. It feels a little bit like “white person stealing eastern tradition and repackaging it to make it palatable and sell.”
Katie Erin
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m not sure I agree with everything in this model quite yet, but I LOVE the conversational style the author uses to teach the process of ACT. I will definitely use the values-based worksheets and some of the mindfulness exercises. I’m looking forward to re-reading to get a better understanding of my discomfort with some of the model!
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book to start with ACT. The whole book took me some time to finish but it was a very pleasant read. It feels like a personal conversation with Russ, a one on one course with him.

ACT is an amazing kind of therapy and also in a certain sense a way of living.

I feel already better prepared and have now tools, knowledge and a structure to work with. Just need to practice all I've learned!
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent introduction to ACT for therapists, and a good reinforcer if you’re somewhere past brand new beginner (like me). Loved the conversational style and the abundance of scripts and worksheets. Have used them in counseling sessions with great results!
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely brilliant! It is easy to follow and implement and has completely shaped the way I do therapy.

It is entertaining and engaging and Russ is incredibly relatable.

An absolute must-read for beginner therapists!
Louise Hendry
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent for practitioners
Vahe Torozyan
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great book about mindfulness and current trends in psychologic disorder treatments
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great explanation of a very complicated concept!
Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I liked it, and it is a good start to ACT. It’s also a bit glib or colloquial.
Daniel Coburn
Solid, accessible introduction to ACT with lots of exercises for applying it in practice.
Feb 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I found this to be an excellent, accessible primer on ACT. ACT now is recognized by the APA as having strong research support for chronic pain and modest but growing support for many other problems. Use of this approach is likely to grow, especially with books like this one by Russ Harris. The first few chapters give a clear, concise frame of reference for understanding the theory, background, and essential concepts. The layout of the book makes it easy to jump to the content you want to ...more
John Lockhart
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is extremely useful as a resource if u want to try ACT but presents ACT as original and better than alternatives and I don't think I buy those presumptions. I think the emphasis on ACT as theoretically proven and scientifically confirmed (at least that's how it comes across to me) is arrogant. I think the assumption that any approach that seeks to change thoughts and feelings is not workable because "you've been trying them for years and they haven't worked" is logically flawed and ...more
William Berry
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is written for therapists, to apply ACT in the therapeutic process with their clients. Though geared for therapists, the language is simple, and I believe anyone who wants to apply ACT to oneself would find the book helpful (though not a substitute for therapy).
The book is well written, gives plenty of techniques, handouts, and tools a therapist will be able to use in therapy. As a practitioner of mindfulness based therapy, (ACT is one mindfulness based therapy) I found the book
Evan Micheals
Feb 15, 2016 rated it liked it
ACT to me is a good attempt to meld the best of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with the best of Mindfulness. The language is quite dry and formulaic, but a darn sight better than a lot of other books of therapeutic modalities. It is a good starting point for people with an interest in ACT. Harris also provides a number of links to resources he provides for free :) He intentionally keeps it free of didactic theory underpinning the techniques. ACT is a worthy tool for anyone working with people in a ...more
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Quick read and useful introduction to ACT. Each chapter has exercises to use for clients and ends with exercises to do for yourself, which makes it easy to start using ACT immediately. It's also great that you can get the handouts for free from his website, if you're a handouts kind of therapist. Highly recommend to anyone interested in therapy and particularly people that may have tried more manualized versions of ACT.
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Superb introduction to ACT with a emphasis on introduction. Also great for already practicing practitioners for a helpful list of experiential exercises to facilitate the different processes of ACT. This is the book I recommend to my colleges who are even slightly interested in ACT (or happiness trap depending on who I'm recommending too). That said I also recommend it to you.
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The ACT primer manual. I found this book to be difficult to read because of its manual-like, broken down style of presentation. My classmates said that it was actually very helpful for their comprehension. To each their own learning style! If you want to know what ACT therapy is, quickly, start here.
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great book! Very concrete instruction on how you can start incorporating ACT into your therapeutic work. Very cool to find a theoretical standpoint that I have already intuitively been using. I wanted to see a little bit more about overcoming obstacles in there, but really enjoyed this thought-provoking primer and the accompanying worksheets and resources!
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing textbook covering the basic foundations of ACT. It was the companion book to the Introductory ACT accreditation I completed with Russ Harris in Feb of 2013 and makes the concepts and the practical use of ACT so much easier to understand.
May 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cleverbooks
This was a great book for getting an overview of the ACT method using mindfulness. It is great it can offer some new ways of looking at things and is not quite as invasive as the 7 point mind training or more intensive mindfulness uses.
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very very practical book! Great for counseling-learners . This book was the textbook of counseling class.
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: counselling
Borrowed this book from the library; so useful I've ordered my own copy. Easy to read and understand, and systematically laid out.
Oct 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: clinical, therapy
Strongly recommended for any beginning therapist
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book on ACT, well-written with great examples.
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Read it 3 times.
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: clinical, reference
I read and reread this book for a class I took over the summer. Wonderful book, wonderful class.
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Dr Russ Harris is a medically-qualified doctor, stress consultant, executive coach, trainer, author, and a leading authority in the powerful new paradigm of Psychological Flexibility. (This is a revolutionary new development in human psychology that enhances performance, reduces stress, and improves health and wellbeing.) Dr Russ regularly presents workshops on Psychological Flexibility at both ...more