Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an empirically-based psychological intervention, meaning it relies on controlled assessment and evaluated outcomes. It implements strategies of affirmation and mindfulness combined with commitment and behavioral change to increase psychological flexibility—he ability to exist in and experience the present moment and make behavioral choices that serve a predetermined set of realized values.
Ultimately, it aims to help people address and cope with anxiety-inducing thoughts, feelings, and memories. Whether you’re curious about the general impact ACT can have on your life, or you’re dealing with a specific trauma that you’re ready to address head-on, the following list of the 15 best acceptance and commitment therapy books will include something written specifically with you in mind.
General Guides on Acceptance & Commitment
The following books are good introductions to Acceptance and Commitment, perfect for anyone new to the practice or looking for a beginner’s guides.
1. Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life: The New Acceptance & Commitment Therapy
Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life by Steven C. Hayes surmises that pain is an unavoidable fact of life, and that trying to avoid it can actually worsen its impact. Using research on ACT, Hayes helps his reader to assess their values and then live in accordance and alignment with them. He focuses on the many ways that human language can contribute to (or alleviate) suffering, how to escape cycles of avoidance, building mindfulness skills, and accepting painful memories and experiences.
2. The Mindful & Effective Employee: An Acceptance & Commitment Training Manual for Improving Well-Being and Performance
This book explains how to improve and maintain your psychological health as an employee in the workplace. Widely recognized by occupational health researchers, business leaders, human resource professionals, policy makers, psychologists, and coaches alike, The Mindful and Effective Employee offers accessible and evidence-based ACT training. Authors Paul E. Flaxman, Frank W. Bond, and Fredrik Livheim help employees find purpose, create meaning, and reach a new level of self-awareness, all while pursuing and achieving their career goals.
3. ACT on Life Not on Anger: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Guide to Problem Anger
Many people struggle to control their feelings of anger, but not for lack of trying. Anger is notoriously difficult to manage. For that reason, ACT on Life, Not on Anger recommends you stop managing and judging your negative emotions. Instead, it says that your path to acceptance begins when you observe those feelings of anger without acting on them. The techniques and tricks in this self-help book give you back control by teaching you to let go of it.
4. The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt
Don’t miss out on another opportunity because you lacked the self-confidence to pursue it. The secret, according to Russ Harris, isn’t to “get over” your doubts, but instead to build a wiser relationship with them. Paradoxically, and according to cutting-edge ACT and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), we are freed from our fears when we stop struggling against them. The Confidence Gaps covers misconceptions about confidence, methods to transform fear, mindfulness techniques, and more.
5. The Courage Habit: How to Accept Your Fears, Release the Past, and Live Your Courageous Life
The Courage Habit encourages readers to ask themselves: what kind of life would you lead if you weren’t afraid? To help you lead a more generally courageous life, this four-part program teaches ways to recognize your triggers, evaluate your emotional state, and implement boundaries with your inner critic. Ultimately, certified life coach Kate Swoboda walks her readers through the process of re-framing fear and other self-limiting narratives.
Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Books for Stress & Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are a part of everyday life, but they can easily become more difficult to manage and cause severe health implications. These books will help you use ACT to combat stress and anxiety.
6. Anxiety Happens: 52 Ways to Find Peace of Mind
These days, anxiety is becoming the status-quo for a lot of people, but it doesn’t need to be your new normal. This reference guide offers fifty-two tools and strategies—that’s one for each week of the year. If you’re tired of living with worry, fear, and panic, this little book—selected as a recommendation by the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies—can be used on its own or in conjunction with therapy to jump-start your life and give you back your power.
7. The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Starting Living
This empowering book by prolific author Russ Harris defines a phenomenon called “The Happiness Trap,” and presents insight based on ACT and other research into behavioral psychology. Harris believes that by clarifying your values and practicing mindfulness, you can escape the trap, live fully in the present moment, and experience true satisfaction. It’s an excellent guide for anyone who wants to reduce stress, deal with painful thoughts and feelings, and overcome insecurity.
8. The Reality Slap: Finding Peace & Fulfillment When Life Hurts
In yet another successful self-help book by Russ Harris, readers will discover ways to find peace amidst pain and calm within chaos. Reality Slap certainly doesn’t shy away from the cold hard truth of life—that sometimes it hurts. However, it is possible to heal your wounds, find wisdom in difficult situations, and feel fulfilled, even if you didn’t get what you thought you wanted. This four-part guide, based on ACT, doesn’t claim you can have a perfect life, but it does show you how to build a meaningful one.
9. Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong: A Guide to Life Liberated from Anxiety
Sometimes things go horribly wrong, but that doesn’t mean we should live our lives paralyzed by fear. The thing is, anxiety is a natural part of life, and this book doesn’t suggest we can or even should try to banish it completely. Instead, Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong guides you on how to feel you fear fully, sit inside the feeling, and go on living your life to the fullest. Although grounded in ACT research, this book is more conversational than technical, but it does include scientifically-tested strategies.
10. Stress Less, Live More: How Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Can Help You Live a Busy Yet Balanced Life
What would you do if you could stress less and live more? If you’ve ever wondered this, then Richard Blonna’s book is for you. It points out that our thoughts directly affect our ability to process stress, but you can retrain your brain to react differently to negative stimuli. You’ll learn relaxation skills to use in crisis mode, methods of creating healthy boundaries, and straightforward mindfulness exercises. Stress Less, Live More is the guide to living a busy yet balanced life.
Best Acceptance and Commitment Books for Trauma
Trauma is a difficult thing to deal with both mentally and physically. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is useful in treating many different kinds of trauma, and the following books will help anyone who’s been traumatized move on.
11. Finding Life Beyond Trauma: Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Heal From Post-Traumatic Stress and Trauma-Related Problems
If you have experienced trauma, you’re likely dealing with the emotional ramifications, and unfortunately, those feelings don’t always get better with time. But they can! Finding Life Beyond Trauma provides its readers with powerful ACT techniques to help them approach and transform painful thoughts and feelings and ultimately, arise from trauma. This book shows you how to clarify your values, commit to actions that will express them, and start living in the present.
Best Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Workbooks
12. The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety: A Guide to Breaking Free From Anxiety, Phobias, and Worry Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
If you’ve been at battle with anxiety, you’re not alone. This workbook, which includes tools, strategies, and exercises, provides an interactive approach to empowerment that helps you create the life you want. The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety is based on revolutionary ACT techniques that operate based on the belief that you can create your own conditions for happiness, avoid getting derailed by mind traps, and discover your capacity for peace of mind.
13. The Moral Inquiry Workbook: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Skills for Moving Beyond Shame, Anger, and Trauma to Reclaim Your Values
The Moral Injury Workbook facilitates healing through an actionable, step-by-step program that reconnects readers with their values and sense of self to work through any trauma or moral injury. The hope-filled message relies on the clinical research and scientific expertise of four authors: Wyatt R. Evans, Robyn D. Walser, Kent D. Drescher, and Jacob K. Farnsworth.
14. Break Free: Acceptance & Commitment Therapy in 3 Steps
Readers claim that this interactive guide can significantly improve the trajectory of your life by helping you overcome self-doubt and embrace daily ups and downs. Author and certified counselor Tanya J. Peterson relates and refers back to her own trauma throughout the book while teaching the principles of ACT to help people get emotionally unstuck. Build your skills, practice real-life exercises, and take another step closer to living a harmonious life that aligns with your personal values.
15. Learning to Thrive: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Workbook
Learning to Thrive offers a practical, action-oriented approach to ACT, as well as plenty of simple solutions for common concerns about wellness, relationships, personal growth, and more. This workbook breaks down complicated subjects in a way that the average person can understand (without the help of Google or a textbook on psychology), and it’s filled with straightforward exercises that engage the mind. Bring positive change to your life by making intuitive changes and practicing radical self-acceptance. It sounds simple, because it can be.