Agents of Hope

Forging Brighter Futures through Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) in Education with Dr Duncan Gillard

July 23, 2020 Season 1 Episode 7
Agents of Hope
Forging Brighter Futures through Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) in Education with Dr Duncan Gillard
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Episode #7

In this episode, I speak to Bristol-based Senior Educational Psychologist, Dr Duncan
Gillard. Duncan is an experienced Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
practitioner, trainer, supervisor and author. You can follow Duncan on Twitter

In this podcast, Duncan talks about his journey into ACT and Contextual Behavioural
Science (CBS) practice as having evolved from several years of travelling in Asia,
where he studied, practiced and eventually taught Yoga and Mindfulness practice.
Duncan’s travels and studies eventually led him to a career in Educational
Psychology, upon completion of his doctoral training at Exeter University. Duncan is
the co-author of the popular self-help book Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for
Dummies and has written several peer-reviewed articles and papers
around ACT and CBS. He is also the co-developer of an exciting new PSHE
curriculum based on the ACT-for-youth model, DNA-v, called the Connect PSHE
(here’s the website:

During our discussion, Duncan helps me to understand the world of ACT
conceptually, empirically and even experientially. Together, we work through a live
example of the application of ACT (with me in the role of client!) to my own personal
worries about my career as an EP. We discuss just some of the wide-ranging
applications of ACT and CBS within education and Duncan provides examples of
these, through a number of projects in which he has been involved during his career
so far, including:

  • ACT-based teacher and school staff wellbeing programs
  •  Interventions, supervision and training around the provision of targeted support, based on the DNA-v (ACT for youth) model for young people with specific issues related to psychological wellbeing. More on DNA-v here: & here
  • A community-based DNA-v program called Reboot West run by the charity 1625IP, supporting young care leavers in the West Country. More on this here
  • The Connect PSHE wellbeing curriculum.

This was a really helpful conversation for me, as a complete newbie to ACT and
CBS, but I have been inspired to develop my interest further. This could be a really
good starting point for anyone who is curious about ACT and its applications within
the world of Educational Psychology practice. I hope you enjoy the episode! Feel
free to offer some feedback to either Duncan or me via Twitter!

Recommended Reading

Brown, F. J. & Gillard, D. (2016). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for
Gillard, D., Flaxman, P. & Hooper, N (2019). Acceptance and Commitment
Therapy: Applications for Educational Psychologists in Schools. Educational
Psychology in Practice.
Gillard, D, Hayes, L., McNally, A. & Willis, K. (in-press). Forging Brighter
Futures for Young Care Leavers. The Psychologist.
Brown, F. J. & Gillard, D. (2015). The Strange Death of Radical
Behaviourism. The Psychologist.
Hayes, L. & Ciarrochi, J. (2015). The Thriving Adolescent.
Ciarrochi, J., Hayes, L. & Baily, A. (2012). Get Out Of Your Mind And Into
Your Life For Teens.
Porosoff, L. & Weinstein, J. (2018). Empower Your Students: Tools to Inspire
a Meaningful School Experience.
Sedley, B. (2015). Stuff That Sucks.
Biglan, A. (2015). The Nurture Effect: How The Science of Human Behaviour
Can Improve Our Lives and Our World.
Harris, R. (2019). ACT Made Simple (2 nd Ed.).

Support the show
Introduction to Dr Duncan Gillard and his vision for education
Psychological Flexibility: The theory that underpins Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and other Cognitive Behavioural Science approaches
How Duncan came to ACT and what has sustained his interest in it?
Real-Play - Tim and Duncan work through an example of how ACT could help Tim work through one of his anxieties about becoming an EP
Analysis of Real-Play through the Psychological Flexibility Hexaflex
How can ACT be applied in practice?
Teacher Wellbeing
Act for Youth Model - DNA-V
Connect Curriculum: Primary School PSHE
Where is ACT happening and what next?
I'm interested in ACT - where can I find out more?
Concluding remarks and a call to action