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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

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About the Event

Cognitive Behavior Institute is excited to welcome Emily Wharton, PsyD for a live interactive webinar on: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Date: May 17th, 2024
Time: 12:00pm - 3:40pm EST
Location: online via zoom meeting
*Participants will have access to their camera/microphone for participation
Cost: $59
Level: Introductory
Credit Hours: 3.5 clinical CEs

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an evidence-based psychotherapy that has been found to be effective for a wide range of clinical presentations, including anxiety, depression, substance use, pain, and transdiagnostic difficulties (Gloster et al., 2020). Since ACT was first studied in 1986, there have been over 1,039 randomized controlled trials examining ACT (Hayes, 2019). ACT has been studied in its application to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and studies have found that clients who receive ACT for OCD experience reduction in OCD symptoms, as well as additional reduction in concurrent depressive symptoms (Evey & Steinman, 2023; Philip & Cherian, 2021, Twohig et al., 2014; Twohig et al., 2010, Twohig et al., 2018). Rather than viewing OCD as a deficit or dysfunction, ACT uses a functional contextual approach to place the problem in the way one reacts to obsessive thoughts and urges, and how one becomes rigid in one’s behavioral responses in their contexts. ACT uses six core processes of change to reduce suffering and improve quality of life (Hayes et al., 2012). Each of the core processes of ACT are used to shift from OCD-based behaviors to connecting with one’s values in the face of obsessive thoughts and urges.

This workshop builds on the strong efficacy of ACT for OCD to provide attendees with a hands-on, interactive experience of the ACT core processes at work when ACT is integrated into Exposure and Response Prevention for OCD. Participants will gain a foundational understanding of ACT and its theoretical basis in the application of OCD. Experiential exercises and live role-play therapy demonstrations will be used to help participants see firsthand how ACT can be combined with Exposure and Responsive Prevention for enhanced treatment of OCD. Participants will leave with a strong understanding of how to engage clients in ACT for effective treatment of OCD, that not only reduces OCD symptoms, but leads to a more values-aligned life.

Lecture: The Theoretical Basis for ACT for OCD
Review of empirical evidence
Functional Contextualism and its application to OCD
Psychological Flexibility as the core goal of ACT for OCD
Control as the problem in OCD
Hexaflex applied to core obsessive processes

Lecture and Clinical Case Study: Values and Committed Action for OCD
Moving from a goal of symptom reduction to values
Values-based exposure hierarchies
Designing Exposures as committed action

Lecture and Experiential Exercises: Mindfulness and Defusion for OCD
Moving from worry and experiential avoidance to present moment awareness
Defusion practices to distance from “OCD thoughts”
Experiential: Designing your own defusion character

2:00-2:10pm Break

Lecture and Experiential Exercises: Willingness and Self-As-Context for OCD
Moving from control and resistance to willingness to be with experience
Willingness experiential practice
From fused and OCD-based self concept to Self-As-Context

Live Therapy Demonstration (with Participant Volunteer: Dancing with OCD around the Hexaflex
Demonstrating each core process through OCD role-play
Hexaflex monitors to illustrate moment-to-moment shifting Demo Debrief

Final Review and Questions

Learning Objectives:
  1. Participants will describe the core tenets, principles, and underlying theory of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy applied to OCD.
  2. Participants will explain each of the six core processes of ACT and their application to OCD.
  3. Participants will illustrate how ACT interventions can help individuals with OCD build psychological flexibility.
  4. Participants will identify how to move fluidly through core processes in moment-to-moment experiences in session.

Instructor Bio:
  Dr. Emily Wharton is a Clinical Psychologist providing psychotherapy to individuals and couples in her private practice, and a Clinical Instructor at the Cognitive Behavior Institute, where she teaches courses in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Dr. Wharton has also served in roles of Clinical Assistant Professor (Affiliated) of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, and licensed clinical psychologist in the Palo Alto VA. She has provided supervision and training for VA and Stanford psychiatry residents, medical students, and psychology trainees in ACT, DBT, and MI. Dr. Wharton trained at the PGSP-Stanford PsyD Consortium, San Francisco VA, UCSF, and Palo Alto VA. Dr. Wharton has also served as the Member-At-Large Director for the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Wharton has given lectures and trainings for the Palo Alto VA, Stanford University, and the Association for Contextual and Behavioral Science. Dr. Wharton has published papers and book chapters on ACT for PTSD, ACT for moral injury, mindfulness practices for anxiety disorders, and group trauma-focused CBT for parents of preterm infants.

Course bibliography:
Bluett, E. J., Homan, K. J., Morrison, K. L., Levin, M. E., & Twohig, M. P. (2014). Acceptance and commitment therapy for anxiety and OCD spectrum disorders: An empirical review. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 28(6), 612–624.

Eifert, G. H., & Forsyth, J. P. (2005). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Disorders: A Practitioner’s Treatment Guide to Using Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Values-Based Behavior Change. New Harbinger Publications.

Evey, K. J., & Steinman, S. A. (2023). A Systematic Review of the Use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Treat Adult Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Behavior Therapy, 54(6), 1006–1019.

Harris, R. (2019). ACT Made Simple: An Easy-To-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. New Harbinger Publications.

Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G. (2016). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: The Process and Practice of Mindful Change (Second edition). The Guilford Press.

Luoma, J. B., Hayes, S. C., & Walser, R. D. (2007). Learning ACT: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Skills-Training Manual for Therapists. New Harbinger Publications.

Mazza, M. T. (2020). The ACT Workbook for OCD: Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Exposure Skills to Live Well with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. New Harbinger Publications.

Philip, J., & Cherian, V. (2021). Acceptance and commitment therapy in the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A systematic review. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, 28, 100603.

Stoddard, J. A., & Afari, N. (2014). The Big Book of ACT Metaphors: A Practitioner’s Guide to Experiential Exercises and Metaphors in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. New Harbinger Publications.

Twohig, M. P., Hayes, S. C., Plumb, J. C., Pruitt, L. D., Collins, A. B., Hazlett-Stevens, H., & Woidneck, M. R. (2010). A randomized clinical trial of acceptance and commitment therapy versus progressive relaxation training for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(5), 705–716.

Twohig, M., Morrison, K., & Bluett, E. (2014). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorders: A Review. Current Psychiatry Reviews, 10(4), 296–307.

Twohig, M. P., Abramowitz, J. S., Smith, B. M., Fabricant, L. E., Jacoby, R. J., Morrison, K. L., Bluett, E. J., Reuman, L., Blakey, S. M., & Ledermann, T. (2018). Adding acceptance and commitment therapy to exposure and response prevention for obsessive-compulsive disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 108, 1–9.

Walser, R. D. (2019). The Heart of ACT: Developing a Flexible, Process-Based, and Client-Centered Practice Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. New Harbinger Publications.


Cognitive Behavior Institute, #1771, is approved as an ACE provider to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Regulatory boards are the final authority on courses accepted for continuing education credit. ACE provider approval period: 06/30/2022-06/30/2025. Social workers completing this course receive 3.5 clinical continuing education credits.

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Social workers, marriage and family therapists, and professional counselors in Pennsylvania can receive continuing education from providers approved by the American Psychological Association. Since CBI is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education, licensed social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists, and licensed professional counselors in Pennsylvania will be able to fulfill their continuing education requirements by attending CBI continuing education programs. For professionals outside the state of Pennsylvania, you must confirm with your specific State Board that APA approved CE's are accepted towards your licensure requirements. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) has a process for approving individual programs or providers for continuing education through their Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. ACE approved providers and individual courses approved by ASWB are not accepted by every state and regulatory board for continuing education credits for social workers. Every US state other than New York accepts ACE approval for social workers in some capacity: New Jersey only accepts individually approved courses for social workers, rather than courses from approved providers. The West Virginia board requires board approval for live courses, but accepts ASWB ACE approval for other courses for social workers. For more information, please see Whether or not boards accept ASWB ACE approved continuing education for other professionals such as licensed professional counselors or licensed marriage and family therapists varies by jurisdiction. To determine if a course can be accepted by your licensing board, please review your board’s regulations or contact them. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit.

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Process for Receiving Continuing Education Credit:
  1. Register
  2. Attend the Training
  3. Complete the Evaluation Survey
  4. Receive Continuing Education Certificate
All items listed above will be available in your Blue Sky account
*Courses remain open for 2 weeks following the end of the training