, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 546–553 | Cite as

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: A Transdiagnostic Behavioral Intervention for Mental Health and Medical Conditions

  • Lilian Dindo
  • Julia R. Van Liew
  • Joanna J. Arch


Psychological interventions have a long history of successful treatment of patients suffering from mental health and certain medical conditions. At the same time, psychotherapy research has revealed key areas of growth for optimizing patient care. These include identifying novel treatment delivery methods that increase treatment adherence, developing new strategies to more effectively address the ever-growing population of patients with comorbid conditions, and elucidating the mechanisms by which effective treatments work in order to further refine their design. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is an empirically supported psychotherapy that offers promise for patients suffering from a wide range of mental and physical conditions, while addressing these gaps and challenges in the field. ACT rests on the fundamental premise that pain, grief, disappointment, illness, and anxiety are inevitable features of human life, with the therapeutic goal of helping individuals productively adapt to these types of challenges by developing greater psychological flexibility rather than engaging in counterproductive attempts to eliminate or suppress undesirable experiences. This is achieved through committed pursuit of valued life areas and directions, even in the face of the natural desire to escape or avoid painful and troubling experiences, emotions, and thoughts. ACT is transdiagnostic (applies to more than one condition), process-focused, and flexibly delivered. In a relatively short period of time, ACT has been effectively implemented across a broad range of therapeutic settings, including mental health, primary care, and specialty medical clinics. ACT has also been delivered in a variety of formats, including 1-day group workshops, online and smartphone applications, and telehealth. Focus on how best to package and deliver treatment to meet the unique needs of different patient populations helps to ensure treatment adherence and has fostered successful application of ACT for patients in everyday clinical settings.


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Psychotherapies Mental health 



This work was funded by grant number K23MH097827 from the National Institute of Mental Health, awarded to Lilian N Dindo; and was partially supported by the use and resources of the Houston VA HSR&D Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety (CIN13-413). This work was also funded by a grant from the American Cancer Society RSG-15-020-01 and PEP-16-055-01, awarded to Joanna J. Arch. The opinions expressed reflect those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the US government, or Baylor College of Medicine.

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Copyright information

© The American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, Inc. (outside the U.S.) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lilian Dindo
    • 1
  • Julia R. Van Liew
    • 2
  • Joanna J. Arch
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesBaylor College of Medicine and the VA HSR&D Center for Innovations in QualityHoustonUSA
  2. 2.VA Central Iowa Health Care SystemDes MoinesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceUniversity of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA
  4. 4.Division of Cancer Prevention and ControlUniversity of Colorado Cancer CenterAuroraUSA

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