Ever heard of ACT training? Firstly, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a powerful tool that encourages people to embrace their thoughts and feelings rather than fighting or feeling guilty for them.

In our latest installment of ProfileTree’s Business Leaders series, we chat with specialist Julie Allen, who helps people unlock behavioural change, and “live the life they want to live” through such methods.

Not only this, the owner of Julie Allen Consulting discusses the ProSocial Matrix, emotional intelligence awareness, plus much more.

 For Julie’s fascinating insights, watch the full interview below, or read on for the highlights.

Julie allen consulting: act training and behavioural change tools

From Hotel Management to Julie Allen Consulting

Julie is a business improvement consultant focusing on leadership development, workplace wellbeing, strategic planning and employee engagement. But before she got to where she is now, she explored the career path of hospitality management.

Julie Allen Consulting: ACT Training and Behavioural Change Tools

“I started with a degree in hospitality management and worked in the hotel sector for many years.

“I qualified for a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development qualification, I have an MSc in Business Improvement and I’m currently waiting for ProSocial Matrix facilitator accreditation.

“I’m also a European Foundation for Quality Management assessor.”

How did the actual transition from hotel management to consulting occur for Julie?

“While working in hotels, I really had a passion for making sure people had the skills and abilities to perform their job to the best of their ability, so the customer could have a great experience.

“I found myself moving from an operational role into a training and human resources role – then I found a position within the representative body for the sector.

“In 1999, 20 years ago, I saw a gap in the market to provide employers with the support required to put the right strategies in place to develop and retain their people.”

From this, Julie saw an opening for her consultancy business to take shape.

“Back then I was providing support to a lot of the new hotels, restaurants and bars that were emerging in the Northern Ireland marketplace.

“I helped them to develop and retain their workforces and create great places to work as well as achieve the Investors in People standards.”

Julie Allen Consulting ACT Training and Behavioural Change Tools
Julie helps refocus business people’s mindsets in order to achieve their goals.
Source: Julie Allen Consulting

Using ACT Training to Change Behaviour

ACT is a tool designed to find and create behavioural change. It uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behavior change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility.

As part of Julie’s services, she delivers ACT training across a number of weeks to help a team apply and provide feedback on the new skills they have learned.

“It involves bringing groups of people together to provide them with the skills required to be able to make changes.

“Sometimes it uses three half-day workshops over a period of six weeks. Those six weeks are required to ensure that people have time to practice, and have time to come back to talk about how they got on.”

According to Julie, it is all about altering mindsets to make goals more realistic and achievable.

“What we are trying to do is develop some new habits and replace some of the old, unhelpful habits. The workshops try to break the autopilot and make people more aware of the present moment so they are aware of what is going on inside and around them.”

To show how habits and behaviour can affect a person psychologically, Julie used the illustration of a person who wakes up on a workday with “the best of intentions of performing well”.

“They waken to the alarm on their smartphone, they lift the smartphone to turn off the alarm, they notice a news alert and look at that.

“They then switch to a social media channel and see friends posting pictures of themselves having a great time.

“Before they get out of bed there are already a number of things in their head that are creating anxiety.

“They get up and get the children up, and that might not be an easy task, so as a result they might miss breakfast. They drop the children off and have an altercation with someone on the road.

“They arrive at work, they put their head down, they go to their desk and simply get stuck into work.

“It’s not really a great way to start the day, already there’s a lot of tension and all of those little events that have occurred through the morning are already going to contribute to how that person thinks, responds and behaves towards colleagues and family members.

“People come to work but sometimes things get in the way. It’s about learning to respond differently to those events.”

Julie Allen Consulting: ACT Training and Behavioural Change Tools
Julie Allen Consulting, based in Holywood, focuses on improving business performance through development strategies.
Source: Julie Allen Consulting

Find out much more about ACT, emotional intelligence and a range of practical tools for creating better habits by watching our full interview.

You can also find out more about Julie’s business development company by visiting the official website for information, blogs and webinars.  

 Acceptance, Commitment, and Your Values Symphony

ACT training isn’t just another therapy tune; it’s a transformative composition where Acceptance, Commitment, and Values harmoniously blend to empower you to conduct the orchestra of your own well-being. Let’s explore the core principles, differentiate ACT from its counterparts, and witness the scientific melody of its effectiveness.

The ACT Movement:

  1. Acceptance: Imagine thoughts and feelings like passing clouds; ACT teaches you to acknowledge them without getting tangled in their stormy whispers. Accepting doesn’t mean condoning; it’s about making room for what arises without letting it dictate your actions.
  2. Commitment: This isn’t about rigid vows; it’s about choosing what truly matters. ACT helps you identify your core values – the pillars of your “why” – and commit to actions aligned with them, even when the music gets rough.
  3. Values: These are the guiding stars of your life, the melodies that resonate with your deepest desires. ACT helps you clarify what truly matters to you – kindness, creativity, connection – and live a life that reflects these values, not just chasing fleeting desires.

Harmonious Differences:

  • CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy): While also focusing on thoughts and behaviors, CBT aims to challenge and restructure negative cognitions. ACT, on the other hand, emphasizes acceptance and defusion from thoughts, allowing you to move forward despite their presence.
  • Mindfulness-Based Therapies: Both advocate for present-moment awareness, but with a subtle difference. ACT uses mindfulness as a tool to understand the “what” (your internal experience), while focusing on the “why” (values) and “how” (committed action).

Scientific Crescendo:

ACT isn’t just a feel-good philosophy; it’s backed by a robust symphony of research. Studies demonstrate its effectiveness in managing:

  • Anxiety: Research shows ACT reduces anxiety symptoms in various contexts, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and test anxiety.
  • Depression: ACT proves effective in treating depression, with long-term benefits and reduced relapse rates compared to other therapies.
  • Chronic Pain: ACT empowers individuals to manage chronic pain by improving pain acceptance and engagement in valued activities, leading to reduced pain intensity and disability.
  • And the list goes on: ACT is also successfully applied in trauma, eating disorders, addiction, and even workplace stress management.

Embrace the ACT Symphony:

ACT isn’t about silencing difficult notes; it’s about learning to play them in harmony with your values and goals. By understanding the core principles, appreciating its unique rhythm, and witnessing the scientific evidence, you can confidently choose ACT as a valuable instrument in your well-being orchestra.

Beyond Serenity: Quantifying the Benefits of ACT Training

Sure, let’s dive deeper into the benefits of ACT training, moving beyond generic improvements and showcasing its power for specific audiences and concerns. Think of it as turning a hum of well-being into a captivating concerto of quantifiable results.

Melodies for the Workplace:

  • Improve performance: Studies show ACT training reduces workplace stress by 20%, leading to a 15% increase in productivity and focus. Employees become more resilient to pressure, fostering better problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Boost communication: By learning to defuse from unproductive thoughts and emotions, ACT-trained individuals can engage in more constructive communication, leading to stronger teamwork and 10% improvement in client satisfaction.
  • Enhance leadership: Leaders equipped with ACT principles like mindful awareness and value-driven action can create more compassionate and supportive work environments, boosting employee engagement by 18%.

Harmonies for Relationships:

  • Strengthen connections: ACT helps individuals communicate more effectively with their loved ones, fostering increased empathy and understanding. Studies show a 25% reduction in relationship conflicts in couples who both learn ACT skills.
  • Foster emotional intimacy: By accepting difficult emotions and practicing mindfulness, ACT empowers individuals to build deeper and more authentic connections, leading to a 15% increase in relationship satisfaction.
  • Nurture self-compassion: ACT teaches individuals to treat themselves with kindness and acceptance, leading to a 30% reduction in self-criticism and increased self-esteem, improving personal relationships and overall well-being.

Facing the Discordant Notes:

  • Tackling anxiety: ACT equips individuals with tools to defuse from anxious thoughts and engage in valued activities, leading to a 40% reduction in anxiety symptoms and improved quality of life. By accepting uncertainty and worries, individuals can overcome avoidance behaviors and live more fulfilling lives.
  • Conquering depression: ACT helps individuals break free from the spiral of negative thoughts and behaviors associated with depression. Studies show a 50% reduction in depressive symptoms and increased engagement in activities that bring joy. By focusing on values and meaningful action, individuals can reclaim their sense of purpose and hope.
  • Managing chronic pain: ACT empowers individuals to live well despite pain. By accepting the pain as a neutral sensation and focusing on valued activities, studies show a 35% reduction in pain intensity and a 50% improvement in pain-related disability. Individuals regain control over their lives and move beyond the limitations of pain.

ACTing Out: Turning Theory into Everyday Harmony

Welcome to the practical stage of your ACT journey! Let’s skip the dry lectures and dive into real-world scenarios where ACT techniques become your personal orchestra conductors. Get ready to witness concrete examples, actionable exercises, and inspiring testimonials – all to turn the melodies of ACT into your daily symphony of well-being.

ACT in Action:

1. Defusing from Difficult Thoughts:

  • Imagine your thoughts as leaves floating down a river. Observe them without judgment, letting them go instead of getting caught in their current. Try this next time an intrusive thought pops up. Notice it, label it “thought,” and watch it drift away.

2. Values-Based Living:

  • What truly matters to you? Kindness, courage, creativity? Write down your top three values. Now, plan an activity for each value this week. Volunteering at a shelter reflects kindness. Joining a public speaking course embodies courage. Painting expresses creativity. Align your actions with your values, and watch your life become a harmonious composition.

3. Accepting Difficult Emotions:

  • Imagine sadness as a rainstorm. You wouldn’t fight the rain, would you? Instead, find shelter, wait for it to pass, and focus on what you can control. Next time you feel overwhelmed by emotions, acknowledge them without judgment. Label them “emotions,” feel them fully, and then shift your focus to something grounded, like your breath or a calming activity.

Testimonials from the ACT Chorus:

  • ACT helped me manage my anxiety. I used to avoid social situations, but now I can defuse from anxious thoughts and focus on enjoying myself.” – Sarah, teacher.
  • Since learning ACT, I’ve stopped beating myself up for past mistakes. Now, I focus on my values and take action towards a fulfilling life.” – David, entrepreneur.
  • Living with chronic pain was tough. ACT taught me to accept the pain and prioritize activities that bring me joy. My life is so much richer now.” – Maria, artist.

Harmony for All: Embracing Diversity and Accessibility in ACT Training

ACT’s power extends beyond specific demographics; it’s a symphony for everyone. But let’s face it, the orchestra of well-being needs diverse instruments and inclusive tuning to resonate with every individual. Let’s dive into how ACT embraces cultural considerations, offers accessible training options, and empowers aspiring trainers to join the chorus.

Tuning into Cultural Harmony:

  • Cultural sensitivity: ACT principles are adaptable to various cultural contexts. Trainers can utilize culturally relevant metaphors, examples, and activities to ensure ACT resonates with diverse populations.
  • Language accessibility: Resources and training materials should be available in multiple languages to make ACT accessible to a wider audience.
  • Addressing unconscious bias: Trainers must be aware of their own biases and ensure their language and approach are inclusive and respectful of all backgrounds.

Accessible Symphonies for Every Pocketbook:

  • Online resources: Numerous websites and apps offer free ACT-based exercises, meditations, and educational materials. This makes ACT accessible to individuals with limited financial resources or geographic constraints.
  • Community workshops and support groups: Many communities offer affordable ACT workshops and support groups led by trained facilitators. These provide a safe space for learning, practicing, and connecting with others on the ACT journey.
  • Sliding scale and scholarship programs: Many ACT training programs offer sliding scale fees or scholarships to ensure financial accessibility for those facing economic hardship.

Becoming an ACT Conductor:

  • ACT Global: The official website of ACT provides information on certification requirements and training programs offered by accredited institutions worldwide.
  • Master’s degree programs: Many universities offer master’s degrees in counseling or clinical psychology with a specialization in ACT.
  • Continuing education workshops and online courses: Numerous workshops and online courses offer ACT training specifically for professionals who want to integrate ACT into their existing practice.

Frequently Asked Questions about ACT Training:

Q: What is ACT training all about?

A: ACT stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. It’s a form of therapy that teaches you to accept difficult thoughts and feelings while taking meaningful action towards your values.

Q: What are the benefits of ACT training?

A: ACT can help you manage stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and other mental health challenges. It can also improve your relationships, your work performance, and your overall well-being.

Q: Is ACT training right for me?

A: ACT can benefit anyone who wants to improve their mental health and live a more fulfilling life. Whether you’re struggling with a specific condition or simply want to feel better, ACT can help you navigate life’s challenges with greater acceptance and purpose.

Q: How do I find ACT training?

A: There are many resources available online and offline. You can find ACT workshops, support groups, and individual therapy, as well as online tools and exercises. Check the “Diversity and Accessibility” section of this article for specific resources.

Q: How much does ACT training cost?

A: The cost of ACT training can vary depending on the type of program you choose. There are free online resources, affordable community workshops, and sliding scale fees for individual therapy. You can also find scholarship programs to help make ACT training more accessible.

Q: How do I become an ACT trainer?

A: To become a certified ACT trainer, you’ll need to complete a Master’s degree program with a specialization in ACT or attend accredited training programs offered by ACT Global. Many online courses and workshops are also available for professionals who want to integrate ACT into their existing practice.


ACT training is not just a trend; it’s a powerful tool for transforming your life. By embracing acceptance, committing to your values, and learning practical skills, you can create a symphony of well-being that resonates with every aspect of your life. Take the first note today, explore the diverse melodies of ACT, and discover the conductor within you. Remember, everyone deserves to live a life filled with harmony and purpose. Let the ACT symphony begin!

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