A very generalized introduction to acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
Developed by psychologist Steven Hayes, ACT is designed to help patients move beyond the stresses caused by negative thoughts. Author and clinical psychologist Sedley begins by acknowledging many of the negative emotions that teens may experience: worry, sadness, loneliness, anger, and shame. Then, using a caveman analogy, he explains that human brains are hard-wired to look for danger, which in the modern age is social rejection. ACT contends that breaking the cycle of negative thoughts involves accepting them—rather than focusing on shame about past behaviors or fear about potential future behaviors—and using mindfulness to focus on the immediate moment. The book suggests activities such as listening to music, staring at a body of water, or paying attention to breathing to aid with mindfulness. Sedley also includes a rating scale to help readers discover their personal values, which they can then use when setting goals for working toward a lifestyle that demonstrates these values. The brevity of topic coverage (typically only a page) necessitates a lot of generalization, and readers may find themselves frustrated. The childish, black-and-white line drawings lend the book a distressingly patronizing feel.
This may work as an introduction to the concept of ACT, but it’s too simplistic to help readers engage in self-directed ACT practices. (Nonfiction. 14-18)