Getting Unstuck in ACT: A Clinician's Guide to Overcoming Common Obstacles in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Getting Unstuck in ACT: A Clinician's Guide to Overcoming Common Obstacles in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

by Russ Harris

View All Available Formats & Editions

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a powerful, evidence-based treatment for clients struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, and a host of other mental health conditions. It is based in the belief that the road to lasting happiness and well-being begins with accepting our thoughts, rather than trying to change them. However


Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a powerful, evidence-based treatment for clients struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, and a host of other mental health conditions. It is based in the belief that the road to lasting happiness and well-being begins with accepting our thoughts, rather than trying to change them. However, ACT can present certain roadblocks during treatment. As a mental health professional, you may adopt basic principles of ACT easily, but it generally takes at least two or three years of hard work and ongoing study to become truly fluid in the model. During that time, you will probably find yourself "stuck" at some point, and so will your clients.

In Getting Unstuck in ACT, psychotherapist and bestselling author of ACT Made Simple, Russ Harris, provides solutions for overcoming the most common roadblocks in ACT. In the book, you will learn how to deal with reluctant or unmotivated clients, as well as how to get past certain theoretical aspects of ACT that some clients may find confusing. This book will help clients deal with sticky dilemmas and unsolvable problems, and will help simplify key ACT concepts to help you break down psychological barriers.

Other common problems with ACT that the book addresses are inconsistencies and sending mixed messages, talking and explaining ACT instead of doing it, being too eager to treat a client, being a "Mr. Nice Guy or Ms. Nice Girl," or putting too much focus on one process while neglecting others. The chapters of the book are based in real life scenarios that take place between therapist and client, and the author provides feedback by analyzing mistakes in what was said and where improvements could be made.

As more and more mental health professionals incorporate ACT into their practice, it is increasingly necessary to have a guide that offers them effective solutions to common ACT roadblocks. For that reason, this book is a must-have for any ACT therapist.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Russ Harris has a well-deserved, worldwide reputation for creating clarity where there is confusion, and simplicity where there is unnecessary complexity. When we are 'stuck' in clinical work, reducing confusion and complexity helps us see a pathway forward. There is wisdom on almost every page of this book. I learned a lot reading it and if you do ACT work, you will too. Highly recommended.”
—Steven C. Hayes, PhD, cofounder of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)

“Once again, Russ Harris has delivered a perfect book on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Crystal-clear and friendly, Getting Unstuck in ACT is a survival guide for the fumbles, ‘stuckness,’ and fear that we all experience in the therapy room. This book is the Swiss Army Knife that will sit front and center in my ACT library.”
Shawn T. Smith, PsyD, author of The User’s Guide to the Human Mind

“Russ Harris has done it again—written another practical and easy-to-follow book that should be a welcome addition to the library of any acceptance and commitment therapist, from the novice to the most seasoned veteran. This step-by-step troubleshooting guide is the next best thing to a tow truck to get you and your clients out of therapeutic ditch we all too often find ourselves stuck in. Think of it as ACT roadside assistance. If you haven’t needed it yet, take it from one who has—you will. Buy this book and keep it in your glove compartment.”
Robert Zettle, PhD, author of ACT for Depression

“Russ Harris’s trademark humor shines throughout Getting Unstuck in ACT. This text is ideal for ACT clinicians grappling with the hellacious aspects of putting the ACT model into practice. Harris has an uncanny ability to make the complex simple. Getting Unstuck in ACT will leave the ‘stuck’ clinician with the aha moment they are looking for. An excellent contribution from one of the most creative and influential authors in the ACT field.”
Louise McHugh, PhD, lecturer in the school of psychology, University College Dublin, and author of The Self and Perspective Taking

Getting Unstuck in ACT is a clearly written, thorough, and timely contribution to the ACT literature. Harris addresses the major ways in which it is possible to struggle with the ACT model, and then highlights easy-to-understand solutions to overcoming these struggles. From a personal perspective, the way in which the basics of behavior analysis have been effortlessly integrated with the ACT model will be of great use to readers. This book should be on the shelf of any person interested in ACT.”
Nic Hooper, PhD, visiting lecturer at the University of Newport, Wales

“Russ Harris has the unique skill of taking complex ideas and expressing them in a style that is readily accessible to almost everyone. If you've ever felt ‘stuck’ with a client, felt like you were going off track, or struggled to motivate people, this book will help. Russ Harris steps through how we get stuck with our own expectations, feelings, and struggles, helping readers to see how these concerns can influence their work. . . . He walks readers through the most common pitfalls and struggles they have with clients as they try to move from struggling with life to living vitally. Getting Unstuck in ACT is the perfect companion to ACT Made Simple and an essential resource to professionals using ACT in therapy or training.”
Louise Hayes, PhD, author of Get out of Your Mind and Into Your Life for Teens

“Harris does a wonderful job directly tying together the six components of the ACT model in straightforward and clear language. Throughout the book, Harris uses examples of session content to model stuck and unstuck responses to ACT processes. There are a good number of sample exercises in Parts one and two of the book as well. Further, at the end of each chapter, there are helpful experiments to practice skills. As someone who frequently supervises student clinicians, I see this book as a must-have!”     
Amy R. Murrell, PhD, associate professor of psychology at the University of North Texas and coauthor of The Joy of Parenting

“Harris expertly clears paths for greater understanding, and illuminates the darker, less understood areas of ACT with sharp, readable clarity. The book is organized to illustrate common therapist sticking-points and then provide steps and strategies to help deal with those obstacles in a very practical manner.”
D.J. Moran, PhD, BCBA-D, MidAmerican Psychological Institute, author of ACT in Practice

“Eventually, all therapists get stuck. . . . In this book, Russ Harris explores client and therapist ‘stuck-ness’ and provides a series of clear and helpful lessons. Packed full of pragmatism, experience, technique, tools, perspectives, humor, and humanity, Getting Unstuck in ACT is an essential read for both seasoned practitioners and those new to ACT. If you let it, this book will deepen your practice of ACT and help you to become the kind of therapist that you would most choose to be."
David Gillanders, founding member of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science and academic director of the doctoral program in clinical psychology at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

“In my experience, therapists and students learning ACT often master the model long before they master application of the model to promote behavior change. Even the most talented therapists can find themselves struggling to apply the ACT model in a way that moves their work forward. In Getting Unstuck in ACT, Russ Harris applies his extensive experience as a therapist and ACT trainer not only to clearly identify a number of difficulties therapists run into when doing ACT, but also to offer specific activities to bring flexibility to these difficult moments. The text includes a number of session excerpts demonstrating both effective and ineffective therapist interventions, along with specific steps to take in different kinds of stuck moments. It will be invaluable to ACT therapists looking to do more meaningful work, even at the most difficult points in therapy.”
—Emily K. Sandoz, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Product Details

New Harbinger Publications
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
856 KB

Meet the Author

Russ Harris is a medical practitioner, psychotherapist, and executive coach. He is author of ACT Made Simple, ACT with Love, The Reality Slap, The Confidence Gap, Getting Unstuck in ACT, and the international bestseller The Happiness Trap. He is also a world-renowned trainer in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). He lives and practices in Melbourne, Australia.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >