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Dropping the Struggle

As humans, we have evolved with many ways of trying to avoid or control our emotional experiences. These use up valuable energy, and often create more challenges. This can mean that we spend less time doing what actually matters deep down. In this module, you will learn how to recognise your own ways of avoiding or controlling your experiences. You will also learn how you can drop the struggle with them, and free up space to do what matters to you.

What you will learn:
  • Happiness myths
  • How avoidance and control can be unhelpful
  • The impact of controlling thoughts & feelings
  • Letting go of the struggle & moving towards what matters

Living in the Present Moment

Mindfulness is a skill that helps us to observe what is happening in the present moment, as it is, without judgement. Mindfulness can help us to be more aware of our experiences, which can allow us to respond through choice rather than our automatic reactions. In this module, you will learn how to practice mindfulness in your day to day life.

What you will learn:
  • What mindfulness is
  • Practicing/learning mindfulness skills
  • Mindfulness for everyday life

Detaching from Unpleasant Thoughts and Feelings

When we experience powerful unpleasant thoughts (e.g., “I’m a bad parent”, “my boss doesn’t like me”) they can feel like they are the truth. Emotions can also trick us into thinking they are facts (e.g., I feel anxious, so a threat must exist). When we believe that unpleasant thoughts and feelings are true, we can act in ways that are inconsistent with what matters to us. In this module, you will learn how to get some distance from your thoughts and feelings so that you are not ruled by them.

What you will learn:
  • The power that thoughts and feelings have on how we act
  • Which thoughts and feelings have a strong influence on what you do
  • Strategies to detach or get distance from unhelpful thoughts
  • Strategies to respond to unpleasant emotional experiences

The Observing Self

The observing self is the part of us that can step back and notice our thoughts and feelings as they pass by. This can help us to become aware of patterns of unhelpful thinking, get space from these thoughts, and do what matters to us anyway.

What you will learn:
  • What the observing self is
  • Recognising how you define yourself and the impact of this
  • Strategies to detach from unhelpful thoughts/beliefs

Finding Out What Matters to You

When we know what matters most to us, we can use this to make choices and guide our actions. This module will guide you to uncover what’s important to you so you can live a life in line with your own values.

What you will learn:
  • What values are
  • Finding out what matters most to you
  • How much you live by your values currently

Doing What Matters

You now know what matters to you and have learned many skills to help you respond effectively to challenging thoughts and feelings. So it is time to take action to live in a way that is consistent with what you care about. In this module you will be supported to create a plan to take steps towards doing what matters and how to tackle obstacles along this journey.

What you will learn:
  • Committing to what matters to you
  • Setting your own manageable goals
  • Managing obstacles to achieving your goals
  • Putting it all together

Module Resources and Summaries


This programme is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). We drew on a number of existing resources, metaphors, and exercises to create ACTion in Caregiving and would like to specifically acknowledge the following works which were critical to the development of this programme:


ACT Made Simple: Second Edition (Harris, 2019); The Happiness Trap (Harris, 2008); The Joy of Parenting: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Guide to Effective Parenting in the Early Years (Coyne & Murrell, 2009); Parenting Your Anxious Child with Mindfulness and Acceptance (McCurry, 2009); Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: The Clinician’s Guide for Supporting Parents (Whittingham & Coyne, 2019); Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Hayes, 2005); and The Big Book of Act Metaphors: A Practitioner’s Guide to Experiential Exercises and Metaphors in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Stoddard & Afari, 2014).

Group Progamme Manuals

Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) for Family Caregivers of People with Developmental Disabilities: Training Manual (Fung et al., 2021); Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Parents (Whittingham et al., n.d.);  and ACT for Parents of Anxious Children Manual (Coyne & Moore, 2021).

In addition we would like to thank Ashra Sherwood for allowing us to use her Breathing Space and Body Scan exercises.