ACT for Kids

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Adapted for Children Working Version (August 13, 2002)

Amy R. Murrell and Kelly G. Wilson University of Mississippi

**This protocol is under development. Do not distribute without permission. Any correspondence should be addressed to either: Amy R. Murrell, 205 Peabody Building, Psychology Department, University of Mississippi, University, MS, 38655,, or Kelly G. Wilson, 205 Peabody Building, Psychology Department, University of Mississippi, University, MS, 38655, Working Protocol (8 tentative sessions) for ACT Group with Children Page 1 of 6, ACT with Children and Adolescents Manual, v8-13-02, Copyright © 2003 by Amy R. Murrell

collectively fill in the outline with thoughts. rules. memories.instructed to fill in the adults' thoughts and speech with what adults who are important to them would think and do about the reasons that they are in the groupget "problems" from parent/teacher perspective clear Group provided with one true-to-life-size outline of a person. and behaviors that the group sees as related to the reasons that they are in the group.g. what would you be doing. Come out of exercise and get volunteers to discuss and leader writes down things that come up 5 minutes 5 minutes Mud exercise. Murrell . to feel safe and that means everyone has to agree to let everyone show their feelings and has to promise not to talk about what other people say with anyone who is not in the group-get promise 15 minutes 15 minutes Session Two 10 minutes Write a story (or draw a picture if more comfortable) about all the things that you and adults in your life have done to make the "problems" go away.ask what your life would look like.include in your story or picture how those things worked 30 minutes Divide into pairs take turns in front of group and act out or pretend to do one of the things that you and the adults have tried and what happened then-discuss with group as each pair role-plays Mule in the well-learn and discuss Review names.get "problems" from self perspective clear Centering exercise and ask what want from group. name game where clap and snap while saying names to the beat. etc. v8-13-02. etc.tell about how it will be and use actual mud in glass Tell that it is important. and ask about if could wave a magic wand. especially since it will be so hard. 10 minutes 5 minutes Session Three Page 2 of 6. deep breaths. ACT with Children and Adolescents Manual. how you would feel. feelings.Session One 5 minutes Simple ice-breaker that allows members to learn names of leader(s) and other group members. get quiet. Copyright © 2003 by Amy R. e.eyes closed.also establish group behavior rules at this time 10 minutes Children given a worksheet to complete individually with the outline of two adults (nonspecific gender) with thought/speech bubbles.

playing ball. “What does your mind say to you if you make a bad grade even after you studied?” or “What does your mind do when someone else says that you are really smart?”.tell that minds are kind of like symbols for brains and ask for things that we don't need our minds to figure out-provide examples (dancing.discuss what the children list and make reference to experience of the difference of when minds are helpful and when they are not Go over how to hunt for our minds working. etc. ACT with Children and Adolescents Manual. feelings.tell them that they have to find one card and come back to the group in five minutes or less (set timer). for example.get examples and reactions 30 minutes Session Four 45 minutes Briefly review that we need our minds for some things but not all. v8-13-02. etc. look and touch objects. as long as they follow group rules and are back in their places in five minutes or less (set a timer).tell them they can get up and walk around.tell that minds look for ways that things or situations are like other things or situations. Have children search the room for one way that minds are useful.tell that minds talk a lot and try to tell you what to do.introduce vital by discussing vital functions of the heart. especially ones that happened to you before or that you think might happen to you. emphasize the benefit of mind when it is useful..tell that other times it is important to use something else to guide us: values Talk about that there are some things that we need like food and some things that we really want because we care a lot about them and they both are very important Allow the group to look at a model heart or a picture of a heart and write down and discuss the important things that our hearts do.go around group and get examples Have the children search for one card each from cards that have been hidden around the room. use protection from getting eaten story.) if needed.tell that minds will try to tell you if something is good or bad for you to do. pumps blood and keeps you alive. Murrell . Place a box shaped like a heart symbol in the center of the group-talk about how this kind of heart is a symbol kind of like the mind is like a brain-say that this heart is about the experiences. Copyright © 2003 by Amy R.25 minutes Allow the group to look at a model brain or a picture of a brain and write down and discuss the important things that our brains do. etc. etc. etc.tell that minds will talk about the same stuff over and over. and behaviors that go with things that keep you alive in a different way by Page 3 of should include questions that address ways that minds work when they are not useful.

etc.being really important to you not for keeping your body alive but for keeping those things that you really want because you care about them a lot. Copyright © 2003 by Amy R. how it affects them. Session Five 5 minutes Recap last session and say that we are using what we put in the heart and wrote down on our assignments (our values) as our guide for the day 50 minutes Use a Velcro target-explain that the bulls-eye is like following your values perfectly and living exactly like what is in your heart (can velcro the papers that the children used in the heart exercise over the center of the target to make more concrete) Ask each child to write and share what they would have to do to live like their values would have them do.tell children that they are to take turns rolling a die and moving around the board and either answering or role-playing.introduce that some things are the opposite of that like they poison or ruin or even kill what is really important to you Have group members write the things that they wrote about in their stories.tell them that they may get one chip for each card that they answer or act-out and that to earn a chip they must tell whether that thing that they Page 4 of 6. etc. the things that they have done to "fix the problem" and put them in either the heart-shaped box or a bottle with a poison label Have group members write the things that they do.create a board with some squares for picking question cards and some squares for picking action cards.may need to give guidance like write who you really like or love. think. ACT with Children and Adolescents Manual. how are you acting now. discuss the distance and what that means.after the placement. v8-13-02. say something about if this is exactly right and vital. what things you really love to do.Ask each child to individually come up to the target and place a ball on it at the place that they actually are from living those values. others that they care about. emphasize specificity by telling them to write and talk about the exact things that they would need to do to have that value feel complete in their lives. or feel that go along with the magic wand we talked about and put those in either the box or the bottle 5 minutes Say that the things that show up in our hearts are called our values. what we really care about and give assignment to write down their values for the next session. depending on the color square that they land on. what things you think are important to do. Session Six 5 minutes 45 minutes Review mind and values distinction Play “ways of being” game. Murrell .

Copyright © 2003 by Amy R. feelings.get examples to share the ending of stories with the group Session Seven 25 minutes Discuss that you don't want to have the behaviors that put you off-target but that the feelings that usually go with acting that way are really important-tie to values listed by children and use examples of how the ways of being are elicited by feelings of unworthy. ending in being exactly on target and very far away. alone. Discuss reactions to game and process as play Session Seven 30 minutes Ask collectively how the distance from values talked about in last session during the game feels and ask for volunteers to discuss specifics Ask collectively when you do those things that came up in the game.just what it feels like in their hearts with respect to getting close to or far from what is important to them (depending on how time progresses say that they have to have five chips to go to the finish square) . did it work like you wanted it to. etc.have paper keys that each child will individually write or draw on to represent the "negative" thoughts. memories that he/she can relate to ways that they have acted Page 5 of 6. “What do you do when things are going really well for you?” or “How do you act when you don’t get your way?” and action cards would address common ways such or pretended to do makes them feel closer or further from their values. 25 minutes Ask if those things feel vital by asking if they bring you closer to the target or move you further from it. etc.ask how did you feel. how did your face look. memories connected to that-introduce protective factors and costs as they arise Ask children to close eyes and play a video in their heads about the last time that they did one thing that showed up during the game (perhaps guide group with common response or common feeling that elicits response if there is such). and how that relates to their value by using information from previous sessions Key metaphor. how did it end up. what did the other person do. a question card would say. for example. etc.introduce the need to do other things that do work when feels further-ask for ideas about what those other things might be Write two paragraph-long stories. what do other people do and get examples. Murrell . ACT with Children and Adolescents should address ways of being in certain situations. what happened. feelings.explore and discuss as willing all thoughts. “Act out being polite” or “Act out being cool”. v8-13-02. could you feel anything in your body. emphasize that there is not a “right” or “better” answer.

have kids share with the group what they value. what they would have to do. Copyright © 2003 by Amy R. what they have been doing that makes them far away from that. Session Eight 10 minutes Review commitments of group by individually checking-in 10 minutes Get group members to agree to get other people in their lives “on their team” or help them live what they value. emphasize that stuck is ok and that they can recommit Final commitment exercise. Murrell . etc. and what they will do to be closer to that 10 minutes 20 minutes Page 6 of 6. how they would know that they were doing it. v8-13-02. will still “mess-up some”.Review mule-in-the-well briefly 30 minutes Review distinctions of mind/not mind and vital/not vital by using examples that were given in previous group Tell that there is a difference between deciding and choosing-minds give reasons to decide but values and vital are what guide choices Ask children if willing to choose to move toward the bulls-eye by adding new things to do/ways to act to what they do Get verbal commitments from each child to the group about one specific behavior to work on before the next session-get specifics about how that would look. emphasize that they may have to “clean-up” with people that they have failed to keep promises or agreements about their behavior with before Discuss that even when really commit. ACT with Children and Adolescents Manual.