Skip to main content

Neuro-Typical Children Outcomes from an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Summer Camp


The current article discusses the practical implications of using acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) in a community camp setting with children. Previous research demonstrates that ACT curricula for children paired with formal mindfulness- and acceptance-based activities show promise as an intervention for children. ACT may also be an effective intervention with children due to its approachable, acceptable, and easily implemented format of delivery. The current study used a neurotypical sample, and outcomes support the potential for increasing psychological flexibility and mindful awareness between an experimental group and a control group. Scores on the Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youth (AFQ-Y) and the Child Acceptance and Mindfulness Measure (CAMM) self-report questionnaires were obtained during pre- and postintervention. The results of the AFQ-Y suggest that there was a significant difference between the experimental group (M = 17.13, SD = 2.64) and the control group (M = 27.4, SD = 2.64) at posttest, F(1, 28) = 7.53, p = .01, \( {\upeta}_p^2 \) = .212. Similarly, the results of the CAMM suggest that there was a significant difference between the experimental group (M = 29.66, SD = 1.99) and the control group (M = 21.26, SD = 1.99) at posttest, F(1, 28) = 8.89, p = .006, \( {\upeta}_p^2 \) = .241. These results indicate that the members of the experimental group, compared to the control group, had significant increases in their overall mindful awareness and psychological flexibility after completing the Mindfulness Camp.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  • Biglan, A., & Hayes, S. C. (1996). Should the behavioral sciences become more pragmatic? The case for functional contextualism in research on human behavior. Applied and Preventive Psychology, 5(1), 47–57.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Burke, C. A. (2010). Mindfulness-based approaches with children and adolescents: A preliminary review of current research in an emergent field. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19(2), 133–144.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ciarrochi, J., Kashdan, T. B., Leeson, P., Heaven, P., & Jordan, C. (2010). On being aware and accepting: A one-year longitudinal study into adolescent well-being. Journal of Adolescence, 34(4), 695–703.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Codd, R. T., Twohig, M. P., Crosby, J. M., & Enno, A. (2011). Treatment of three anxiety disorder cases with acceptance and commitment therapy in a private practice. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 25(3), 203–217.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Coyne, L. W., McHugh, L., & Martinez, E. R. (2011). Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT): Advances and applications with children, adolescents, and families. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics, 20(2), 379–399.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dixon, M. R. (2014). ACT for children with autism and emotional challenges. Carbondale, IL: Shawnee Scientific Press.

  • Dixon, M. R., & Paliliunas, D. (2018). AIM: A behavior analytic curriculum for social-emotional development in children. Carbondale, IL: Shawnee Scientific Press.

  • Enoch, M. R., & Dixon, M. R. (2017). The use of a child-based acceptance and commitment therapy curriculum to increase attention. Child & Family Behavior Therapy, 39(3), 200–224.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fletcher, L., & Hayes, S. C. (2005). Relational frame theory, acceptance and commitment therapy, and a functional analytic definition of mindfulness. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 23(4), 315–336.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Goodman, T. A., & Greenland, S. K. (2009). Mindfulness with children: Working with difficult emotions. In F. Didonna (Ed.), Clinical handbook of mindfulness (pp. 417–429). New York, NY: Springer Science + Business Media.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Greco, L. A., & Hayes, S. C. (2008). Acceptance and mindfulness treatments for children and adolescents: A practitioner’s guide. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

  • Greco, L. A., Dew, S. E., & Baer, R. A. (2005). Acceptance, mindfulness, and related processes in childhood: Measurement issues, clinical relevance, and future directions. In S. E. Dew & R. Baer (Chairs), Measuring acceptance, mindfulness, and related processes: Empirical findings and clinical applications across child, adolescent, and adult samples. Symposium conducted at the Association for Behavior and Cognitive Therapies, Washington, DC. Retrieved from

  • Greco, L. A., Lambert, W., & Baer, R. A. (2008). Psychological inflexibility in childhood and adolescence: Development and evaluation of the avoidance and fusion questionnaire for youth. Psychological Assessment, 20(2), 93–102.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Greco, L. A., Baer, R. A., & Smith, G. T. (2011). Assessing mindfulness in children and adolescents: Development and validation of the child and adolescent mindfulness measure (CAMM). Psychological Assessment, 23(3), 606–614.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hancock, K. M., Swain, J., Hainsworth, C. J., Dixon, A. L., Koo, S., & Munro, K. (2016). Acceptance and commitment therapy versus cognitive behavior therapy for children with anxiety: Outcomes of a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 47(2), 296–311.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hayes, S. C., Luoma, J. B., Bond, F. W., Masuda, A., & Lillis, J. (2006). Acceptance and commitment therapy: Model, processes and outcomes. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44(1), 1–25.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hayes, L., Boyd, C. P., & Sewell, J. (2011). Acceptance and commitment therapy for the treatment of adolescent depression: A pilot study in a psychiatric outpatient setting. Mindfulness, 2(2), 86–94.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hayes, S. C., Levin, M. E., Plumb-Vilardaga, J., Villatte, J. L., & Pistorello, J. (2013). Acceptance and commitment therapy and contextual behavioral science: Examining the progress of a distinctive model of behavioral and cognitive therapy. Behavior Therapy, 44(2), 180–198.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Heffner, M., Sperry, J., Eifert, G. H., & Detweiler, M. (2002). Acceptance and commitment therapy in the treatment of an adolescent female with anorexia nervosa: A case example. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 9(3), 232–236.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hofmann, S. G., Sawyer, A. T., Witt, A. A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(2), 169–183.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Howell, A. J., Digdon, N. L., & Buro, K. (2010). Mindfulness predicts sleep-related self-regulation and well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 48, 419–424.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kennedy, A. E., Whiting, S. W., & Dixon, M. R. (2014). Improving novel food choices in preschool children using acceptance and commitment therapy. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 3, 228–235.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Livheim, F., Tengström, A., Bond, F. W., Andersson, G., Dahl, J., & Rosendahl, I. (2016). Psychometric properties of the avoidance and fusion questionnaire for youth: A psychological measure of psychological inflexibility in youth. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 5(2), 103–110.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Metzler, C. W., Biglan, A., Noell, J., Ary, D. V., & Ochs, L. (2000). A randomized controlled trial of a behavioral intervention to reduce high-risk sexual behavior among adolescents in STD clinics. Behavior Therapy, 31(1), 27–54.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schmaltz, J. E., & Murrell, A. R. (2010). Measuring experiential avoidance in adults: The avoidance and fusion questionnaire. International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy, 6(3), 198–213.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Semple, R. J., Reid, E. F., & Miller, L. (2005). Treating anxiety with mindfulness: An open trial of mindfulness training for anxious children. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 19(4), 379–392.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Swain, J., Hancock, K., Dixon, A., Koo, S., & Bowman, J. (2013). Acceptance and commitment therapy for anxious children and adolescents: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 14(1), 140.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Wicksell, R. K., Dahl, J., Magnusson, B., & Olsson, G. L. (2005). Using acceptance and commitment therapy in the rehabilitation of an adolescent female with chronic pain: A case example. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 12(4), 415–423.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mary Rachel Enoch.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

Mary Rachel Enoch declares she has no conflict of interest. Mark R. Dixon declares that he receives small royalties from the sales of the ACT curriculum.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all caregivers of individuals who participated in the study.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Research Highlights

•ACT is an effective intervention with youth populations.

•An ACT curriculum for children demonstrated increases in psychological flexibility in a neurotypical sample.

•Compared to a control group, youths participating in a Mindfulness Camp demonstrated increases in mindful awareness.

•Preliminary results suggest that delivering ACT in a community group format may be a feasible and approachable delivery model.



Table 1 Daily schedule of activities with group size
Table 2 ACT Activities and Processes Targeted
Table 3 Mindful walking activities, mindful listening activities, yoga, and daily experience log

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Enoch, M.R., Dixon, M.R. Neuro-Typical Children Outcomes from an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Summer Camp. Behav Analysis Practice 12, 343–352 (2019).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Mindfulness
  • Community setting
  • Children