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Copy of Adapting ACT for Primary School Students

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Megan Turnbull

on 19 September 2013

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Transcript of Copy of Adapting ACT for Primary School Students

Adapting ACT for Primary School Students
Aim: Adapting the ACT matrix for use with primary school aged children.
Adapt the ACT matrix to be more visual and less verbal to:
Increase engagement
Facilitate understanding of ACT concepts
Shorten and make flexible the number of sessions needed.
Increase resilience by developing skills to effectively cope with problems and take committed action in line with values.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
ACT is an evidence based humanistic therapy that has been in development over the past thirty years. ACT was developed from:
Functional Contextualism
Applied Behavioural Analysis
Relational Frame theory
A = Accept your thoughts and feelings and be present (Acceptance and mindfulness)
C = Choose a valued direction
T = Take action
In ACT symptom reduction is not considered an aim, rather it is usually a byproduct of the ACT process.
The main goal of ACT is to help clients create a rich, full and meaningful life while accepting the pain that inevitably goes with it.
This is done through: Mindfulness Skills and value clarification

Psychological Flexibility
The ability to be present in a moment with full awareness and openness to our experience and to take action guided by our values.
Children are affected by adversity on a neurobiological level
Incentives based on test scores do not adequately address the effects poverty, adversity and stress have on students.
Character strengths such as optimism, grit and resilience are better predictors of success than test scores or IQ.
Character strengths are not innate - they are shaped by the environment a child is in.
Background Rationale
Martin Seligman became known as the father of positive psychology when he chose it as his theme for his term as president of the American Psychological Association in 1998.
Together with Christopher Peterson, Seligman created a manual of Character Strenghts and virtues which he described as a 'positive' counterpart to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) -
Session Overview
ACT Hexaflex
ACT Triflex
Rapport and Engagment
ACT Matrix
Rapport and Engagement
The ACT matrix board appeared to both assist in building rapport and maintaining participants engagement with the counselling sessions.
The ACT matrix board appeared to facilitate understanding of the ACT concepts even when participants had low verbal ability
The ACT matrix board shortened that 8 session program to between 3 to 4 and allowed for flexibility in the number of sessions.
Understanding of ACT concepts and number of sessions
It was difficult determine through observation if participants had increased resilience at the end of the sessions.
Observational evidence suggested that participants may have gained and used skills to better handle problems or difficulties
Overall the results suggests that the ACT board was:
Facilitated understanding of ACT concepts
May help increase resilience through giving children skills to handle difficulties and problems
Allowed flexibility in the number of sessions needed.
Overall Results
Small sample size
Difficult to distinguish effect of board, therapist and other therapeutic factors
Resilience should have been measured using a quantitative measure
Strengths and Further Research
Pilot study/Trial of the board
Showed the importance of visual, less verbal therapies for younger children.
Further research could:
More rigorously examine whether the use of the board enhances therapeutic outcomes and the increase of resilience and/or other character strengths.
Examine whether ACT could be used as a group or whole school approach in primary schools using adapted resources for younger students
Importance of positive approaches with children.
Strengths-based approaches possibly highly beneficial.
Visual, less verbal resources highly beneficial with younger students.
Even young students can benefit from and understand complex concept.
School Counsellor flexibility.
Adaptation of the Matrix

Michelle, Age 10
Mother passed away 1 month ago, and brother involved in bullying incidents. (3 sessions)
Teresa, Age 6
Parents recently divorced – mother concerned about Teresa’s emotional well-being. (4 sessions)
Michael, Age 12
Father incarcerated. Frequent school refusal. Avoids work, problems with peer relations, struggles academically, multiple suspensions. (3 sessions)
Lisa, Age 11
Mother chronically ill, mother and teacher concerned about Lisa’s social skills, academic progress and emotional well-being. (1 session)

Session 1 -2
• Rapport building
• Working through the board.
• Main focus is on talking about values
• Fill in as much of the board as possible
• Draw the child’s attention towards the two pictures amongst the seeds or “permanent seeds”.

Session 2-3
• Recap of the board.
• Reading of “Josh’s Monster Trouble.”
• The monster from the book is shown to the child in toy form and the ACT metaphor is repeated and clarified through acting it out with the monster toy. understanding.
• The “Leaves on a stream” activity is taught to the child.
• The mindfulness activity – giving space to feelings is taught to the child.

Session Overview
Sessions 3 -4
• Recap of board – including the new things the child has learned.
• Child is asked to look at the board and choose one value to work towards. Child and therapist work through a goal setting activity for living towards your values.
• Child and therapist mindfully eat a chocolate.


Scott Miller Child Sessions Rating Scale
Oberservation. (Comparison between observation of the ACT matrix and the ACT board.
Scott Miller CSRS
Full transcript