Overcoming Barriers to Effective ACT-Informed Exposure Therapy 

March 8, 2024 | 3:30-6:30pm PST

w/ Brian Thompson, PhD and Brian Pilecki, PhD 

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About The Workshop

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a newer cognitive behavioral treatment that emphasizes increasing psychological flexibility—taking action towards what is important to us even when in contact with uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations—as a target of treatment. The ACT model is consistent with newer research on exposure therapy that has found that symptom reduction is not a strong predictor of treatment outcome (Craske et al., 2014) and ACT-informed exposure appears effective in the treatment of anxiety and obsessive-compulsive and related disorders (Arch et al., 2012; Twohig et al., 2018). However, an ACT approach to exposure can feel counter-intuitive for clients and therapists. Therapists trained in traditional exposure focused on habituation may struggle with the shift in language from a focus on symptom reduction towards ACT concepts such as acceptance and values. ACT therapists new to implementing exposure therapy may struggle with rigidity in applying ACT principles in exposure interventions.  

Based on the presenters’ recently published book, ACT-Informed Exposure for Anxiety: Creating, Effective, Innovative, Values-Based Exposures Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Thompson, Pilecki, & Chan, 2023, this workshop will offer a brief introduction to ACT-informed exposure and focus on practical ways to address common problems in implementation. Case examples will be provided to illustrate common client barriers such as lack of buy-in and difficulty grasping core ACT concepts. Strategies for overcoming these barriers will be offered and participants will have the opportunity to practice newly acquired skills through role-plays and break-out rooms. The presenters will offer tips for orienting clients to ACT-informed exposure. 

Meet Your Instructors

Brian Thompson, PhD

Dr. Brian Thompson is a licensed psychologist and director for the anxiety clinic at Portland Psychotherapy. Brian completed his doctorate at the University of Montana, his pre-doctoral internship at the Portland VA Medical Center, and a post-doctoral fellowship focused on acceptance and commitment therapy under the supervision of Jason Luoma, PhD, (e.g., Learning ACT) and Jenna Lejeune, PhD, (e.g., Values in Therapy). Passionate about evidence-based treatment, he specializes in working with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive and related disorders (OCRD). In addition to working full-time as a clinician, Brian has published in peer-reviewed journals on Third Wave approaches to anxiety and OCRD, organized and contributed to professional trainings (e.g., workshops, symposia, panel discussion) on related topics, and offers consultation to professionals on integrating ACT and newer models of exposure in clinical work. He has held leadership positions, most recently as Past-President for the Oregon Chapter of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, and he was a consultant and therapist for a telehealth program focused on health anxiety through Regence. 

Brian Pilecki, Ph.D.

Dr. Brian Pilecki is a clinical psychologist at the Portland Psychotherapy Clinic that specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders (OCD, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorder), trauma and PTSD, and matters related to the use of psychedelicsBrian completed his doctorate at Fordham University in Bronx, NY and completed his pre-doctoral internship at the Weill-Cornell Medical center at New York Presbyterian HospitalHe completed a post-doctoral fellowship at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and practices from an orientation based in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  Brian also has extensive experience in the areas of mindfulness and meditation, and incorporates them into his therapy with clients.  He is an active researcher and has published on topics such as anxiety disorders, mindfulness, and the relationship between theory and practice in psychotherapyBrian has also held numerous leadership positions, including his current service as a committee chairperson for the Association for Contextual and Behavioral ScienceAt Portland Psychotherapy, Brian is also involved in research in his specialty areas.

Join us!



for up-and-coming professionals

  • Access to exclusive webinar setting with Dr. Brian Thompson and Dr. Brian Pilecki 
  • Free Access to Portland Psychotherapy Community Resources
  • Must be enrolled in accredited study program

Professionals (w/ CE Certificate)


Most Popular

  • Access to exclusive webinar setting with Dr. Brian Thompson and Brian Pilecki 
  • Continuing Education Certificate
  • Free Access to Portland Psychotherapy Community Resources



Intermediate-Advanced. Attendees should have some experience implementing exposure therapy and some basic knowledge of ACT.  


After attending this training, participants will be able to:

  1. Orient clients to ACT-informed exposure. 
  2. Using examples of client feedback, identifycore ACT psychological flexibility processes that were strengthened during exposure. 
  3. Troubleshoot problems with implementing exposure exercises in an ACT context. 


Registration is online. Presentations will be recorded and sent to anyone who registers for the event. 


We reserve a number of partial scholarships for potential attendees who could not otherwise afford to come. We give particular priority given to those who would add diverse and under represented voices to our field. To submit an application, please click here.


Portland Psychology Clinic, Research & Training Center is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Portland Psychotherapy, Clinic, Research & Training Center maintains responsibility for all programs and content.

This workshop grants 3 CE credits for therapists with the purchase of Professionals with CE Certificate ticket and live attendance of the entire workshop. Credit will not be given for only watching the recording.

REFUNDS/CANCELLATIONS: We charge a $15 administration fee for cancellations made by participants more than two weeks before the training event. For cancellations within two weeks of the training event, we will refund 50% of the tuition. Alternately, participants may elect to apply 100% of their tuition to a future training event. No refunds will be given after training events.

SPECIAL ACCOMODATIONS: Please contact us if you need accommodations to enable you to fully participate in the workshop. We will work with you and do our best to find a way to ensure your participation.

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