Acceptance and Commitment Therapy,
modified for the neuro divergent population
NEUROACT® is an innovative 12-session manual-based program designed specifically for individuals on the autism spectrum or with other neurodevelopmental and complex conditions. This transformative method focuses on stress management and essential skills training, addressing the unique challenges associated with executive and adaptive functions.
Key features of neuroACT®
Our program is carefully tailored to empower individuals in effectively navigating stressful situations commonly encountered, such as sensory overload (including sounds, smells, and tactile experiences), difficulties with emotional and bodily awareness and regulation, unfamiliar social occasions and environmental changes, and overwhelming social demands.
The key features are:
Stress Management: NEUROACT® equips individuals with practical strategies to effectively manage stress, enabling them to maintain a sense of well-being and flexibility in challenging situations.
Skills Training: Through a structured approach, NEUROACT® provides comprehensive skills training, empowering individuals to enhance their executive and adaptive functions, ultimately promoting personal growth and resilience.
Tailored for Neurodevelopmental Conditions: Recognizing the unique needs of individuals with neurodevelopmental and complex conditions, NEUROACT® offers specialized techniques and interventions that specifically address their challenges.
Holistic Approach: NEUROACT® takes a holistic view of well-being, encompassing emotional, cognitive, and sensory aspects. By promoting self-awareness and self-regulation, the program supports individuals in achieving a balanced and fulfilling life.
Evidence-Based Practices: Developed by experts in the field, NEUROACT® is rooted in evidence-based practices, ensuring its efficacy and reliability in delivering positive outcomes for individuals.
How to register
To express your interest in this program, please provide us with information about yourself or your teen. We will then reach out to organise start date and time.
How much does it cost?
Our program costs $193.99 per hour. If you have NDIS, you can utilise your capacity building or core supports budget.
Backed by research
NEUROACT® has emerged as a scientifically feasible and highly effective program specifically designed for adolescents and adults facing an autism diagnosis along with comorbid conditions such as ADHD, elevated stress levels, and mental health challenges.
Grounded in evidence-based practices, this transformative method combines elements of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), offering a comprehensive approach to stress management and skill development.
The NEUROACT® program encompasses psychoeducation on stress, emotions, sensory impressions, and body signals, empowering individuals with a deeper understanding of their own experiences. Additionally, it incorporates motivational enhancement techniques to foster engagement and progress.
The primary objective of NEUROACT® is to equip participants with the essential tools that enhance psychological flexibility—the ability to effectively navigate thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. By reducing behavioral avoidance and fostering a sense of purposefulness, individuals are able to pursue personally chosen goals, leading to improved mental health and overall well-being.
NeuroACT® has undergone rigorous evaluation in three comprehensive studies conducted at the esteemed Karolinska Institute. These studies provide compelling evidence of the program's effectiveness in improving the lives of individuals on the autism spectrum.
Study 1: School-Based Evaluation In this study, 28 autistic adolescents and young adults participated in NEUROACT® within a school setting. A comparison was made between students who received NEUROACT® and those who followed standard teaching methods. All NEUROACT® participants completed the training, which demonstrated its suitability and value. The results exhibited a statistically significant reduction in self- and teacher-reported stress levels. Moreover, individuals in the NEUROACT® group experienced decreased self-rated mental illness, reduced hyperactivity and inattention, and increased self-perceived prosociality. These effects were observed within medium to large effect size ranges (d = 0.67-0.81, 95% CI), indicating substantial improvements. While no significant changes were found in conduct problems, peer relations, or anxiety symptoms, the study outcomes underscored the efficacy of NEUROACT®. Authors: Pahnke, J, Lundgren, T., Hursti, T., & Hirvikoski, T. (2014). Published in the journal Autism. Download the article here.
Study 2: Outpatient Psychiatric Care Pilot In this pilot study, ten autistic adults undergoing outpatient psychiatric care participated in NEUROACT®. Nine participants successfully completed the program, highlighting its practicality and efficacy. The results demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in perceived stress and depression, accompanied by improvements in quality of life, psychological flexibility, and cognitive defusion (thought management) skills. Effect sizes ranged from small to large (d = 0.27-0.92, 95% CI). Additionally, the study suggested increased perceived social abilities. However, no significant enhancements were observed in anxiety, work- or family-related functioning. Authors: Pahnke, J., Hirvikoski, T., Bjureberg, J., Bölte, S., Jokinen, J., Bohman, B., & Lundgren, T. (2019). Published in the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science. Download the article here.
Study 3: Randomized Controlled Trial This controlled randomized study involved 39 autistic adults in outpatient psychiatry. Remarkably, 85% of the NEUROACT® group successfully completed the program, emphasizing its suitability for individuals receiving outpatient psychiatric care. The results showcased statistically and clinically significant improvements in perceived stress and quality of life—the primary outcome measures—in the NEUROACT® group compared to those receiving regular mental health care. Participants in the NEUROACT® group also experienced a significant decrease in avoidance behaviors and perceived improvements in sleep quality, psychological flexibility, cognitive defusion, and a trend towards reduced depressive symptoms. Notably, perceived cognitive inflexibility (autistic mannerism) significantly improved, with a trend towards enhanced social motivation. These effects demonstrated medium to large effect sizes (d = 0.57-1.24, 95% CI). No significant differences were found in sleep-related breathing problems, daytime fatigue, awakening difficulties, functional levels (social, work, and family-related), social awareness, social cognition, or communication compared to the control group. However, intention-to-treat (ITT) analyses revealed a statistical trend for improved perceived executive functions compared to the control group. Authors: Pahnke, J., Jansson-Fröjmark, M., Andersson, G., Bjureberg, J., Jokinen, J., Bohman, B., & Lundgren, T. (2022). Published in the journal Autism. Download the article here.
These three pivotal articles are integral components of the doctoral thesis "Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evaluation of feasibility, effectiveness, and validity of a novel contextual behavioral treatment" by Johan Pahnke.