Recently, with my colleague Joe Oliver, we presented our work (at the ACT Summer Institute IV) on developing acceptance and commitment therapy to help young people recovering from a first episode of psychosis. We titled our presentation “ACT Early”, and described the work we have been doing in developing groups and individual therapy for this population.
The stance of acceptance and committed action may allow for flexibility in response to persisting psychotic experiences, as has been suggested in ACT studies with the seriously mentally ill (Bach & Hayes, 2002; Gaudiano & Herbert, 2006). There is also the exciting potential for researching the impact of ACT in the early phase of psychosis – helping first episode clients to recover from psychosis through the development of a more mindful approach toward unusual experiences and critical appraisals, and committing to values-based actions.
More specifically, the use of ACT may:
 foster the development of a psychologically flexible stance toward anomalous experiences,
 enable a “values-based” recovery,
 reduce the impact of “fear of recurrence” of psychosis through development of mindfulness and self as context,
 enable individuals to notice the process of self-stigmatisation, contexts where this operates as a barrier, and commit to valued directions in the face of these appraisals, and
 improve relapse prevention plans through the use of mindfulness and committed action.
We describe a group program we have developed, as well as individual work with young people who have experienced a first episode of psychosis. In addition there is discussion about a pilot ACT/mindfulness group for people experiencing at risk mental states, who may be in a prodromal phase of psychosis.
The .pdf of this workshop is here: act-early-morris-oliver-2008 and the audio recording of our presentation is here (.mp3 format, 30MB download)