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InTER-ACT is grounded in the evidence based therapeutic approach and training model of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. ACT is a type of ‘third wave’ cognitive behavioural therapy which helps clients to let go of the struggle with negative thoughts and feelings so that they are freer to pursue what is important and meaningful to them. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy aims to help clients to become more ‘psychologically flexible’. This means being fully present in the moment, aware and open to internal experience whilst taking action guided by personal values. 

ACT has a strong history of empirical evaluation. There are around 600 randomised controlled trials (the gold standard research method) evaluating the efficacy of ACT with strong evidence that ACT is an effective treatment for a diverse range of difficulties. There is also growing evidence for the efficacy of ACT for children and young people with research indicating that ACT is equally effective to traditional approaches such as CBT.

ACT is well suited to universal mental health programmes as it is ‘transdiagnostic’ (applies the same core principles to effectively treat multiple types of difficulties). As a result, ACT is being increasingly used in school settings where classes of young people tend to include both those with and without mental health difficulties. The ethos of ‘common humanity’ (we are all in this together) alongside the focus on moving towards what matters (as opposed to  getting rid of ‘problems’) tends to be well received by young people, who find the approach validating, empowering and normalising. This review article by Laura Knight and Victoria Samuel summarises the evidence base regarding the use of ACT in schools.