Where is ACT and RFT going?

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Everywhere that cognizing humans go. We want a theory of human behavior that allows us truly to make a difference in our homes, schools, workplace, and clinics. The ACT / RFT community wants it all: a technology that works, a theory that works, basic principles, AND a powerful linkage to our deepest human desires. But we can distinguish aspirations from data – and we have created a culture of openness and self-criticism that seems scientifically healthy.

It is often that culture which seems most powerful when people first contact the ACT and RFT community. We are using ACT / RFT to create an ACT / RFT community that is open, non-hierarchical, diverse, committed, sharing, caring, and just plain fun. The vitality the young professionals and students as seen on this very website beg for the question: “what would happen if we worked together to create a community dedicated to the production of a psychology worthy of the human needs we are meant to address?” By appealing to the better nature of out clients (e.g., self-acceptance, mindfulness, values, commitment) we seem to be creating change in the clinic. Similarly, by raising our sites as professionals and creating a supportive, open, generous culture the same might happen in our training programs, clinics, and research teams.

For those of us in the ACT / RFT / Contextual Psychology community we do not think that basic and applied science can safely stand apart. We seek the creation of a new empirical contextual psychology that carries forward and deepens our intellectual tradition, revitalizing basic psychology and linking our work to principles that help us address problems of human suffering and human growth. We want to see us create a psychology more adequate to the challenges of the human condition.

This was part of the original vision of behavioral psychology and behavior therapy. Behavioral psychology lost its way over the issue of human cognition, and traditional CBT resulted, but perhaps we have found a way forward that will go beyond the excessively narrow goal of empirically evaluated technologies, to include also the two other aspects of our original tradition that were left behind: a firm link of application to basic principles, and an expansive vision of a form of psychology that can help create a better world in every area of human life. If we can do that, psychology itself may become more robust and useful. That is the vision.