Using ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) in ABA Parent Training

Acceptance and commitment therapy - otherwise known as ACT - is based on relational frame theory which was created based upon human behavior and cognition.

One area that ACT can be helpful within the context of ABA services is through the application of ABA parent training for children with autism spectrum disorder as well as other disabilities. ACT in general can help support all parents through the years of raising children.

Challenges of Being a Parent of a Child with Autism

Compared to parents of non-ASD kids, parents who have a child with autism often experience more stressors (e.g., dealing with difficult behaviors, uncertainty about their child’s future, financial strains, social isolation, etc.). 

Traditional parent training has focused on teaching parents to address current behavioral concerns that their child may be exhibiting. However, it is equally important to approach parent training in a way that helps the parent to have the tools that will help them to manage future behavioral concerns, changes that arise within the family structure, and to navigate family life and their child’s development as time goes on (Kowalkowski, 2012). ACT provides a useful tool to help parents gain valuable skills to deal with the stressors associated with raising a child with Autism. 

The six core processes of ACT: 

1.        acceptance - which is the alternative to experiential avoidance and a willingness to be with what cannot change (such as unpleasant emotions)

2.        cognitive defusion - stepping back from your own thoughts

3.        self as context - seeing one’s self as both a holding space for thoughts and experiences as well as the self that is connected to personal history, thoughts, and emotions

4.        contact with the present moment - being in the here and now

5.        values - identifying what matters most in life

6.        committed action - acting in ways that are connected with one’s values