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Introducing ACT Guide

ACT Guide is an online self-help program designed by psychologists at Utah State University to foster emotional wellbeing and help individuals cope with mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and stress.

  • Participation is open to all adults aged 18 years and older.
  • For $10, you get unlimited access to the program for six months.
  • Begin the registration process

Evidence-based program backed by scientific research

ACT Guide is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a treatment shown to be helpful for a wide range of mental health issues in over 300 randomized clinical trials. ACT Guide was developed by Michael Levin, an associate professor in the department of psychology at Utah State University, along with members of the USU ACT Research Group. Dr. Levin has been developing and researching online ACT programs for over a decade, with over 20 clinical trials demonstrating the benefits of online ACT. ACT Guide represents a culmination of this work, now made publicly available for you to use.

Skills you can use every day, learned at your own pace

ACT Guide is completed entirely online, on your own, and personalized to help you meet your specific mental health goals. Each of the 12 lessons in ACT Guide contains strategies to promote mental wellbeing that you can use in your daily life, such as developing a healthier relationship with negative thoughts and feelings, practicing mindfulness, clarifying what matters most to you in life, and setting personal goals that keep you on the right track. Each lesson takes 20-40 minutes to complete, and primarily consists of reading and completing interactive exercises. We recommend completing 1-2 lessons a week, with the full program taking 8-12 weeks to complete everything. The program is self-guided so you get to use it whenever you want at whatever pace works well for you.

Flexible and convenient to meet your goals

ACT Guide provides a convenient way to improve your mental health from the privacy of your own home. ACT Guide is not intended to replace therapy, but you can use it on your own or with a therapist, whatever fits your needs. We recommend ACT Guide for adults looking for help with mild to moderate symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, or related concerns. The skills taught in ACT Guide are helpful for a wide range of problems and can be flexibly applied to many life challenges, so the program is also suitable for anyone who wants to learn new ways to develop emotional wellbeing and overcome challenging stressors in their life. You have to be 18 or older to use ACT Guide.

Affordable and easy-to-access

A $10 flat fee grants access to all modules of ACT Guide and included resources. Payments are processed through PayPal and can be made with any major credit or debit card. These fees cover the costs of delivering the program and USU graduate student funding to support further development.

ACT Guide is a service created and maintained by the Utah State University ACT Research Group. If you have any questions or technical issues using ACT Guide, please contact ACTGuide@usu.edu. You can also contact the project director, Dr. Michael Levin, at michael.levin@usu.edu. You can review our privacy statement and our user agreement. The USU ACT Research Group has a number of ongoing research studies evaluating self-help programs for various mental and physical health concerns. You can learn more about these studies, which may offer access to free or more targeted resources in the context of research.

Frequently Asked Questions

We are currently only able to offer ACT Guide to adults who are 18 or older. Beyond that, ACT Guide is designed to be applicable to a wide range of people struggling with a variety of challenges. Our program is primarily designed for people experiencing mild-to-moderate levels of depression, anxiety, or stress. However, the skills we will teach you have been found useful for a much broader range of concerns including addictions, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety, psychosis, relationship problems, work performance, academic functioning, athletics, sleep, chronic pain, coping with medical issues, and weight management.

ACT Guide should not be used as a replacement for therapy, and we strongly recommend you work with a professional if you are in significant distress. That said, we hope ACT Guide can provide an additional resource for those who are unable to work with a professional, are not interested in in-person services, or for those working with a provider. So if you are interested in learning new skills to improve your general mental wellbeing, this program is probably for you.

The skills you will learn in ACT Guide are similar to those you would learn from an in-person therapist who practices ACT. However, you will be doing the learning yourself and on your own time. Self-help programs do not fully replicate the level and type of treatment received from an in-person therapist, and we do not recommend using ACT Guide as a replacement for therapy. However, many things you will do in ACT Guide, such as experiential exercises, are similar to the kinds of things you might do in in-person therapy. The advantages of this approach are that you can learn helpful skills whenever you want, at a low cost, and on your own in the privacy of your own home. That said, you also may miss out on some of the more tailored and responsive assessments, services, relationship, and so on that you would get with a therapist. Consider ACT Guide a resource and step in improving your mental health, which could also include an in-person provider now or in the future.

As you go through the program, you will learn new ways of coping with difficult thoughts and feelings as well as identify and engage in meaningful activities you want to be doing more of in your life. This will primarily involve reading and completing interactive exercises such as answering questions about issues you may be struggling with, applying a new skill in your life, and practicing skills in the moment. Each lesson will end with a goal to practice the strategy you learned over the next few days.

ACT Guide consists of 12 lessons, each of which is 20 to 40 minutes long. If you are a slower reader or tend to be thorough, you might plan to take 40 minutes or even up to an hour per lesson. Although you can complete the course at whatever pace you want within your 6-month subscription, we typically recommend waiting 3-4 days between lessons and completing 1-2 lessons a week. With that in mind, you can plan for the whole program to take 8-12 weeks if you want to review every lesson. The lessons build off of each other so we recommend going through all of them, but each lesson is designed to teach you useful skills so we think the program will be likely helpful to you even if you don’t go through all 12 lessons.

ACT Guide can be accessed on any reasonable size smartphone screen or other device through the website URL, provided the device has internet access. Although the program is optimized for use on at least a 13 inch laptop screen, it should also work well on smaller devices. That said, if you run into any problems completing an exercise, we recommend you switch to a laptop or desktop computer to complete that exercise before returning to using your phone.

No, ACT Guide is designed to be completed entirely on your own over the internet. You will not interact with a coach or an online community. Although some people prefer these features, for the current version of ACT Guide we focused on a completely independent experience so users can complete the program on their own, in the privacy of their home, at whatever pace is convenient for them.

We provide a detailed description of what data is collected and how it is handled in our privacy statement.

Please follow the “Sign Up” link at the top of the page where you will be directed to the purchasing page. After purchasing access, you will receive instructions on how to access the program, after which you will be able to use the program an unlimited number of times for six months.

We use PayPal to process payments for ACT Guide. You may use any major credit or debit card, or any linked bank account or PayPal balance if you have an account with PayPal. The fee is $10 for six months of access.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which ACT Guide is based on, has demonstrated support for treating a wide range of mental health problems. There have been over 300 randomized controlled trials demonstrating the positive effects of ACT, which represent one of the strongest sources of evidence for treatments. Please see the following webpage for a regularly updated list of research studies supporting ACT: State of the ACT Evidence.

Of note, ACT has also been found to be effective when delivered in a self-help format like ACT Guide. Dr. Michael Levin, the developer of ACT Guide, is one of the leading researchers of ACT self-help interventions. Dr. Levin has found strong support for online ACT programs like ACT Guide in over 20 clinical trials, with dozens of studies by other research teams finding similar results. ACT Guide is most directly based off a line of research evaluating online ACT for a range of mental health concerns among college students, with three RCTs completed to-date showing positive results from a very similar version of this program.

Levin, M.E., Haeger, J., Pierce, B. & Twohig, M.P. (2017). Web-based acceptance and commitment therapy for mental health problems in college students: A randomized controlled trial. Behavior Modification, 41, 141-162.

Levin, M.E., Krafft, J., Hicks, E. & Twohig, M.P. (In Preparation). A dismantling trial of the open and active components of acceptance and commitment therapy in an online self-help program for distressed college students.

Petersen, J.M., Krafft, J., Twohig, M.P., Levin, M.E. (Under review). Evaluating the open and engaged components of acceptance and commitment therapy in an online self-guided website: Results from a pilot trial.

Due to a software limitation, some lessons may display an incomplete percentage even though the module has been completed fully. You will know you've completed a lesson when you reach the Summary page. We apologize for any confusion.

ACT Guide is a service created and maintained by the Utah State University ACT Research Group.