Development and Evaluation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Delivered by Psychologists and Non-Psychologists in an NHS Community Adult Mental Health Service: a Preliminary Analysis

Behav Cogn Psychother. 2018 Jan;46(1):121-127. doi: 10.1017/S1352465817000285. Epub 2017 May 11.


Background: Previous studies have demonstrated that acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is effective for depression and may be useful for complex transdiagnostic clients.

Aims: To conduct a preliminary evaluation of whether ACT is feasible and effective when delivered by psychologists and non-psychologists for complex clients in a National Health Service (NHS) community mental health service for adults.

Method: Staff were trained in ACT and conducted one-to-one therapy with clients. Measures on general mental health, depression, fusion and values were given pre-therapy, post-therapy and at 3-month follow-up.

Results: Standardized measures showed significant improvements post-therapy for global mental health, depression, cognitive fusion and values post-treatment. These were partially maintained at follow-up and remained after an intent-to-treat analysis. There were no differences in outcomes between psychologists and non-psychologists.

Conclusions: ACT may be delivered effectively with limited training for complex cases in secondary care, though further research is needed.

Keywords: ACT; NHS; adult mental health; depression.

MeSH terms

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Community Mental Health Services*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychology*