There are two versions of this workshop, one is for parents the other is for health and social care professionals working in palliative care.  The emphasis is on you, the parent. health or social care professional and developing skills that will benefit you and your child or the clients and families with whom you work in palliative care.  The workshop also includes skills in guided imagery, which can be used in pain and symptom management, sleep disturbance or creating a special place for the child and parent.


Palliative care can be complex, emotional and stressful for all involved. As parents and or health and social care professionals, what can we do to help ourselves, the clients and families with whom we work through the emotions and stress around end of life care?  This workshop addresses this important question for palliative care within an ACT framework.  The emphasis on acceptance and the shift from 'Control' to 'Values' in the ACT framework makes it particularly relevant for working in palliative care.  

The workshop is grounded in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) (Hayes, Strosahl & Wilson 2011) and Personal Construct Psychology (Kelly, 1955).  ACT is both a set of guiding psychological principles and a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.  The focus is on developing a degree of psychological flexibility with strategies aimed at clarifying values, acceptance and living and working with emotions, pain and stress rather than avoidance.  There is a firm body of literature and evidence on ACT for a range of chronic conditions including anxiety, depression and chronic pain (click on Psychology/Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in the banner above for more on ACT).  The literature on ACT and palliative care is developing (Feros, Lane, Ciarrochi & Blackledge, 2011) and will no doubt escalate in coming years.

Typical approaches to managing stressful and painful events tend to rely on patterns of avoidance because as a coping mechanism avoidance can work in the short term with the day to day unpleasantries of life.  However, with the deeper issues of life, palliative and hospice care, avoidance can be ineffective.

The framework for this workshop moves away from a ‘fix it’, ‘control it’ and if that fails ‘avoid it’ approach towards a model that is based on acceptance.  It is important to understand that acceptance in this context means a willingness to ‘be with’ rather than a sense of giving up or resigning to the inevitable.   

Participants will have opportunities to practice mindfulness exercises and skills that they can use personally and in their practice.


Upon completion of the workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the basic tenets/application of an ACT and PCP approach to working with stress and emotions in palliative care.
  • Use mindfulness, defusion techniques and principles from ACT in working with the stressors in palliative care.
  • Use and develop skills in guided imagery, which they can apply to their work in palliative care. 


09.00 – 11.00  Pain: sensation, cognition and emotion theories - useful stuff for the everyday challenges in palliative care.

ACT 1: The Approach - Personal Construct Psychology (PCP) and Acceptance and   Commitment Therapy (ACT).
ACT 2: Putting theory into practice: Towards psychological flexibility - mindfulness and defusion techniques in palliative care.
11.00 – 11.15  Tea Break

11.15 – 12.50  ACT 3: Emotions, values and end of life issues for the client, family and health professional.
12.50 - 13.30  Lunch
13.30 – 15.30  Guided Imagery Technique: theory, practice and demonstration.  Guided Imagery Cases: review and discussion of videos.
15.30 – 17.00  Small group practice in guided imagery.
Tea Break
Group discussion and feedback: putting the skills into practice.
17.00  Finish


Caputi, P., Foster, H. & Viney, L. (2008). Personal construct psychology: New Ideas.  New York: Wiley.

Feros, D.L, Lane, L, Ciarrochi, J.,& Blackledge, J.T. ( 2011).  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for improving the lives of cancer patients: a preliminary study.  Psycho-Oncology (2011) Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com). DOI: 10.1002/pon.2083

Hayes, S.C., Strosahl, K.D. & Wilson, K.G. (2011).  Acceptance and commitment therapy: the process and practice of mindful change. (2nd ed.).  New York: Guildford.

Kelly G.A. (1955).  Psychology of personal constructs.  New York: Wiley.