How to do Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in groups: the Passengers on the Bus metaphor

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy frequently involves engaging participants in experiential exercises and metaphors. These metaphors can really have impact when they are acted out, instead of simply being described and talked about in a session. Using physical movement is a great way of doing this, as participants can relate to moving toward and away, struggling and letting go, being disconnected and connected, moving deliberately in a direction etc. Great examples of “physicalising” metaphors include Russ Harris’ clipboard exercise, Tug of War with the Monster, and JoAnne Dahl and colleagues’ Life Line exercise.

There is a terrific new resource available, a video demonstration of how to lead the Passengers on the Bus metaphor in a group format (below). This has been produced by the BABCP ACT Special Interest Group and is based on the “ACT for Recovery” study, recently conducted in South London (I was on the research team). Our study engaged people recovering from psychosis and carers in 6 group sessions, with “Passengers…” being a central metaphor. In group sessions we introduce participants to the metaphor, show an animation (another useful resource, below and available here), and then invite participants to act out the metaphor, using their own experiences and valued directions. The randomised controlled trial of this intervention has shown promising well-being outcomes.

Joe Oliver has provided a detailed description of the steps to do this exercise in a group, taken from our ACT for Recovery treatment manual.The video, plus the instructions, will give you an excellent framework for running this exercise in your group work.

We are pleased to share that our manual will be published by New Harbinger Publications in 2016, with updated content, including new illustrations, and details on how to train peer supporters and professionals in running successful ACT groups.

What are your experiences of doing this exercise?  Please feel free to comment below or contact us.



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