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UNC Chapel Hill School of Social Work Webinar

Continuing Education:
2 Hours (details)

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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based approach that encourages 1) increased awareness of avoidance patterns that paradoxically exacerbate, rather than reduce, suffering, 2) practicing openness to personal experiences (thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and memories) as they occur in the here and now, and 3) focusing energy on doing what matters in line with personal values. Using acceptance and mindfulness-based processes, commitment, and behavior change processes, clients practice authoring their own personal life values, and pursuing these values even when they are experiencing difficult or uncomfortable experiences. Clients are encouraged to take small and then increasingly larger steps toward valued living, which provides numerous opportunities for practicing moment-by-moment self-compassion and openness to psychological pain that may arise along the way. In this workshop, Jennifer Plumb-Vilardaga will provide an overview of ACT, with an emphasis on using values and meaning to guide work with clients towards vitality.


Jennifer Plumb Vilardaga is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke and a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. She is a peer-reviewed ACT trainer and received her doctorate at the University of Nevada-Reno under the mentorship of Steven C. Hayes, co-founder of ACT. Prior to coming to Duke, she practiced and supervised students at the PTSD clinic at the Seattle VA, and supervised providers learning ACT in VA programs across the country. She has published widely on ACT and co-authored a book on the use of personal values work in ACT. Her current work at Duke involves ongoing research on ACT, mindfulness, CBT, cancer pain management, and coping with other medical issues. She has clinical expertise in chronic pain, substance use disorders, PTSD and trauma recovery, anxiety, depression, coping with illness, and adjusting to disability. She enjoys working with adults, college students, Veterans, and individuals who identify as LGBTQ.




  1. Introduction to ACT model
  2. Values as guiding principles
  3. Applying ACT to values work

Learning objectives:
At the conclusion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Name and describe at least 2 core strategies of ACT.
  2. Explain at least 1 principle of personal values exploration.
  3. Identify at least 2 strategies for incorporating values work into clinical care with clients.


  • Bramwell, K., & Richardson, T. (2018). Improvements in depression and mental health after acceptance and commitment therapy are related to changes in defusion and values-based action. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 48(1), 9-14. doi:10.1007/s10879-017-9367-6
  • Dindo, L., Van Liew, J. R., & Arch, J. J. (2017). Acceptance and commitment therapy: A transdiagnostic behavioral intervention for mental health and medical conditions.Neurotherapeutics, 14(3), 546-553. doi:10.1007/s13311-017-0521-3
  • Grumet, R., & Fitzpatrick, M. (2016). A case for integrating values clarification work into cognitive behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 26(1), 11-21. doi:10.1037/a0039633
  • Plumb, J., Dahl, J., Lundgren, T., Stewart, I. & Dahl, J. (2009). The art & science of valuing in psychotherapy Helping clients discover, explore, and commit to valued action using acceptance and commitment therapy. New York, NY: New Harbinger Publications.


Printable Handouts | Full-size slides

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work Clinical Lecture Series    

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