PsyFlex Psychological Resilience Training is based on Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT)

There is no such thing as a ‘stress-free workplace’. All forms of work come with a wide range of challenges. When humans encounter challenges, they inevitably experience difficult thoughts and feelings.

Almost all common workplace problems (e.g. bullying, harassment, dysfunctional teams, increased absenteeism, alcohol and drug abuse, reduced performance, etc.) occur because employees do not know how to effectively handle their difficult thoughts and feelings, and end up using harmful or ineffective strategies to cope.

To solve these problems, employers develop mental health programs, and workplace interventions, aimed at ‘stress management’, or more recently, ‘resilience’.

In contrast to these commonplace but outdated approaches, Acceptance and Commitment Training, better known as ACT, is based on cutting-edge research into human behaviour. ACT – which is said as the word ‘act’, not as the initials A.C.T. – gets its name from a core message: accept what is out of your personal control, and commit to action that improves your life.

A wealth of research (link to the below research) published in top psychology journals, shows that when ACT is applied in the workplace, it enhances performance, increases work satisfaction, decreases absenteeism, and reduces work place conflicts. Thus our own programs are based on over fifteen years of high-quality research into the use of ACT in the workplace.

More about ACT – Click here

In challenging situations, people commonly experience difficult thoughts and feelings. And often these thoughts and feelings dominate their awareness and their behaviour – a psychological process technically known as ‘fusion’. When people ‘fuse’ with difficult thoughts and feelings, their behaviour typically becomes ineffective, self-defeating, harmful to themselves, or problematic to others.

Often, people then start trying to do whatever they possibly can to avoid or get rid of those unpleasant thoughts and feelings – a psychological process technically known as ‘experiential avoidance’, which is the main problem underlying all forms of addictive behaviour. (What makes drugs, alcohol, gambling, and cigarettes so addictive is that in the short term they help people to escape or avoid difficult thoughts and feelings, and replace them with ‘good feelings’ instead.)

When someone has high levels of ‘fusion’ and ‘experiential avoidance’, he becomes unable to behave effectively in the face of life’s challenges. Instead of being psychologically flexible, he becomes psychologically rigid. His thoughts and feelings jerk him around like a puppet on a strung, and his behaviour changes in self-defeating ways. Typically he starts to do things that worsen the situation, or exacerbate his challenges, or create new problems that make his life even harder.

ACT helps people to reduce psychological rigidity and increase psychological flexibility, through the innovative use of mindfulness skills and values-guided action.

Mindfulness is a mental state of awareness, openness and focus. In a state of mindfulness, you are able to take control of your behaviour, and act effectively, and focus fully on the task at hand, instead of being dominated by your thoughts and feelings.

Unfortunately, many people believe mindfulness skills can only be taught via meditation. The good news is, there is no need to meditate; anyone can learn mindfulness skills, quickly and easily, in the space of a few hours. (In our programs we deliberately avoid meditation as a training tool, as so many people don’t like it!)

ACT teaches people three core mindfulness skills: defusion, expansion, and connection.

Defusion is the ability to ‘step back’ and ‘unhook’ yourself from difficult thoughts and feelings.

Expansion is the ability to ‘open up’ and ‘make room’ for difficult thoughts and feelings; to let them ‘flow through you’; to let them come and stay and go, without getting swept away by them, and without trying to fight them.

Connection is the ability to connect fully with what is happening right here and now in this moment: to focus attention on whatever is relevant to the task at hand (instead of getting distracted by your thoughts and feelings), and engage fully in what you are doing.

When you apply these mindfulness skills, difficult thoughts and feelings lose their impact and influence over you; they no longer dominate your awareness or your actions; they no longer hold you back, bring you down, overwhelm you, or push you around. This means that instead of struggling with your thoughts and feelings, you can focus your full attention on the task at hand.

Once you are mindful, the next step is values-guided action. This means you access your core values, and use them to guide your ongoing behaviour: to take effective action in the face of your challenges. Values are basically your heart’s deepest desires for how you want to behave as a human being; the personal qualities you most want to exhibit; how you want to treat anyone or anything you interact with; what you want to stand for in life; and what you want to role model for others.

When you can act mindfully, guided by your values, you become far more effective; you are more likely to do things that improve the situation, solve your problems, improve your health and wellbeing, build better relationships, and enhance your quality of life in the long term. The ability to do this is called ‘psychological flexibility’.

Research Information – Click here

More than 20 studies have shown that psychological flexibility predicts a wide-range of work-related outcomes – including work attitudes, wellbeing, job performance and absence rates {Bond, 2013}.

ACT interventions have been show to both increase psychological flexibility and:

  • Reduce work-related emotional distress {Bond, 2000}
  • Increase productivity {Bond, 2000}
  • Increase innovation {Bond, 2000}
  • Increase transformational leadership behaviours {Bond, 2011}
  • Improve team leadership leading to increased organisational commitment and profit {Bond, 2011}
  • Reduce unplanned absences from work for employees with chronic health problems {Dahl, 2004}
  • Increase the application of new learning to the job {Varra, 2008}
  • Increase job satisfaction {Bond, 2003}
  • Increase the benefit of job redesign {Bond, 2008}
  • Increase motivation {Keogh, 2006}
  • Improve performance {Keogh, 2006} {Bond, 2003},
  • Increase resilience {Flaxman, 2010}
  • Decrease the incidence of burnout {Vilardaga, 2011}{Hayes, 2004}


Interesting Research:  Measuring Health-Related Productivity Loss. This may help you develop your business case for investment in workplace wellbeing initiatives –