Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Through the Lens of Doug Funnie


Introduction to ACT: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that encourages individuals to embrace their thoughts and feelings rather than fighting or feeling guilty for them. ACT focuses on six core processes: Cognitive Defusion, Acceptance, Contact with the Present Moment, The Observing Self, Values, and Committed Action. These processes help individuals live more fully in the present moment and engage in behaviors aligned with their values.


Connecting ACT to Doug Funnie: Doug often faces challenges that stir internal conflicts, such as social anxiety, peer pressure, and a desire to fit in while also staying true to himself. These scenarios are perfect for applying ACT to help individuals, especially adolescents, navigate similar experiences.


Steps in the Intervention

  1. Cognitive Defusion:
    • Doug frequently gets caught up in his thoughts, particularly through his imaginative alter ego, Quailman. Use this aspect to teach clients how to observe their thoughts without getting attached to them, illustrating that thoughts are merely words and images, not dictates that must be followed.
  2. Acceptance:
    • Doug encounters various situations where he must accept things he cannot change, such as Patti Mayonnaise not noticing him or a mistake he made at school. Teach clients to practice acceptance of their feelings about such situations, recognizing that discomfort and negative emotions are part of life.
  3. Contact with the Present Moment:
    • Doug's adventures often include moments where he is fully engaged in his activities, whether drawing in his journal or playing with his dog, Porkchop. Encourage clients to practice mindfulness, focusing on the here and now, and engaging fully with their current activities.
  4. The Observing Self:
    • Highlight how Doug reflects on his day by writing in his journal, observing his actions and feelings from a distance. This can help clients understand the concept of the observing self—that they are more than their thoughts and feelings and can observe them without judgment.
  5. Values Clarification:
    • Doug’s stories often revolve around his struggles to align his actions with his values, such as honesty, friendship, and courage. Guide clients to explore and clarify what truly matters to them and discuss how aligning behaviors with these values can lead to a more fulfilling life.
  6. Committed Action:
    • Doug takes action based on his values, even when it’s difficult. He stands up for friends or admits to a mistake. Facilitate sessions where clients commit to actions that are in line with their values, regardless of the emotional discomfort that may come with these actions.


Using Doug Funnie as a framework to teach ACT principles provides a relatable and engaging way to discuss complex psychological strategies. This intervention is particularly suited for children and adolescents, helping them to navigate their emotional world, make value-based decisions, and engage in life with authenticity and resilience.


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