We have been pleased to welcome the following guest presenters at the ACT Study-Practice Group:

 Since its inception in May, 2013, the ACT Study-Practice Group continues to be the centerpiece of the Chapter's educational programming. Hosted by our facilitator, Mike Femenella, PhD, it serves as a place where individuals from all levels of experience and backgrounds can alternately learn and practice Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and related contextual perspectives. 



Daniel J. Moran, PhD
November 19, 2014
"Balancing What’s Hot with What’s Not:
Putting Mindfulness in Harmony with Commitment"

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an evidence-based psychotherapeutic approach that blends mindfulness with behavior therapy. Effective ACT treatment plans help people become more present-focused while moving forward on values-based commitments. This workshop described how to assist clients with sticking to important commitments, and also included experiential exercises, as well as didactic elements that explain the use of the Mindful Action Plan
About the Speaker:
After earning his doctorate from Hofstra University in 1998, Dr. Moran was a university professor for ten years, helped treat dozens of people with Discovery Studio’s Hoarding: Buried Alive TV show, and founded the MidAmerican Psychological Institute, a thriving behavior therapy clinic in Chicagoland. He is also the Founder of Pickslyde Consulting, an organization aimed at using evidence-based applications to improve performance and wellness in the workplace. He co-authored ACT in Practice(New Harbinger) with Patty Bach, PhD; and, in 2013, published the book, Building Safety Commitment in an effort to help front-line workers and leaders improve their safety by learning about mindfulness and values-based motivation. More recently, Dr. Moran has been named Senior Vice-President for Quality Safety Edge, a pioneering organization aimed at implementing behavior-based safety processes worldwide. He currently serves on theACBS Board as Secretary-Treasurer.


Jonathan S. Kaplan, PhD
September 18, 2014
"Mindfulness in ACTion: What, Why, How, and When"

Mindfulness has become used increasingly in various psychotherapies, including ACT. Yet, applied incorrectly, mindfulness can facilitate avoidance and prevent the cultivation of acceptance and psychological flexibility. In this workshop, Dr. Jonathan Kaplan reviewed what mindfulness is and explored its role in ACT. He introduced the SPARK model of mindfulness processes that helps people develop their own personalized practice. After leading participants in a couple mindfulness exercises, he identified ways to overcome common obstacles to the practice and invited discussion about how and when to use mindfulness with patients.
About the speaker:
Dr. Jonathan Kaplan works as a clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City. He has been practicing and teaching mindfulness for 15 years. Author of Urban Mindfulness and co-author of ACT & RFT in Relationships, his work has been featured in O Magazine, El Mundo, BBC News, NPR, Fox News, ABC News, and various other TV and radio shows. He holds a Diplomate from the Academy for Cognitive Therapy and he is a Founding Fellow of the New York City Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Association. For more information, please visit

Brian Pilecki, MA
May 15, 2014
“The Role of Language in Human Suffering”

Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me…” Though many of us may remember this nursery rhyme from childhood, the truth is that names, words, and languagecancause us much suffering. This study group used an ACT perspective to discuss the ways in which language and thinking can be harmful, and how focusing on theprocessof thinking, rather than its contents, can be therapeutic and liberating. Specific interventions for working with clients were offered. 
About the Speaker:

Brian Pilecki, PhD has since completed his doctoral degree in clinical psychology at Fordham University, and was accepted to a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brown University, where he is involved in research and practice in an ACT-based partial-day hospitalization program. He has been studying and practicing mindfulness since 2000 and ACT since 2007, presenting at national conferences and publishing in the areas of cognitive defusion and experiential avoidance. Brian earned his MA in Eastern philosophy prior to his doctoral studies, was a seminal founding member of NYC-ACBS, and serves on the Chapter’s Board as Membership Chair and Treasurer.


Martin Brock, MSc
April 16, 2014
"To Do ACT…or... Not To Do ACT
The ACT Questions You Never Dared to Ask"

One can read the books, participate in workshops, and join in the ACBS listserv discussions in order to learn how to do ACT.
But those events don’t typically tell how NOT to do ACT, nor do they address personal hurdles in learning to implement ACT. ACT group supervision is an important part of becoming more proficient at being present with clients and learning to apply solid ACT case conceptualization to clinically relevant behaviors.
In this session, a seasoned ACT therapist with extensive supervision experience talked about common ACT blind spotsand common misunderstandings observed in supervisees’ ACT work. We discussed these concerns and offered a variety of possible ways of moving forward when therapists find themselves stuck. Part of the session was devoted to question and answer, so as to give opportunity for attendees to bring up specific dilemmas. 
About the Speaker:
From across the pond, we were proud to host Martin Brock, MSc, a peer-reviewed ACT trainer. He has over 35 years of experience and has trained clinically in CBT, ACT, CFT, MBCT, and EMDR. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK, and is a recognized ACT trainer who has regularly delivered ACT workshops in the US, Europe, and Australia.

Martin is Chair of the ACBS Membership Committee, Past President of the ACBS UK Chapter, and sits on the ACBS Evolution Science and Compassion Focused Special Interest Group.


Yosef Gurevitch, LCSW
October 17, 2013
"Timing is Everything: An Exploration of
When to Facilitate Acceptance"

NYC-ACBS Co-Founder, Yosef Gurevitch, LCSW, guided the group through the fine points of deciding just when and how to introduce acceptance in a session with clients experiencing difficult realities. Through a simulation with a volunteer client, Yosef demonstrated optimal times for such an intervention to be most effective. Debriefing with the client, discussion and questions and answers followed. 
About the Speaker:
Yosef Gurevitch is Director of the NY/NJ Center for Mindfulness, where he facilitates Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills building, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs for the general public; and Mindfulness-Based trainings and workshops for professionals. He is Co-founder and Past President of NYC-ACBS.He maintains a private practice in Monsey, New York and Lakewood, New Jersey.


Mark Sisti, PhD
August 15, 2013
“Acceptance Processes and the Therapeutic Agreement”

Arguably the essential dialectic processes at the core of ACT;  "Acceptance & Experiential Avoidance".  How do we conceptualize and clinically access "acceptance", sometimes called, willingness or expansion in ACT, how do we create an ACT oriented "therapeutic agreement" targeting this core process.
About the Speaker:
Mark Sisti, PhD is the Founder and Director of Suffolk Cognitive-Behavioral (SCB) a group treatment &training centercommitted to “third generation” cognitive behavioral therapies. As Director of SCB he supervises and trains students and professionals in the New York metropolitan area.He is also an Adjunct Clinical Supervisor at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology at Yeshiva University, and a Founding Fellow – Diplomate and Certified Trainer in The Academy of Cognitive Therapy. Currently, Mark serves as President of NYC-ACBS, and is the Chair of the ACBS Chapter and SIG Committee.


Dennis Tirch, PhD
June 20, 2013

About the Speaker:
Dennis Tirch, PhD is the Founder and Director of The Center for Mindfulness and Compassion Focused Therapy, Diplomate and Fellow of The Academy of Cognitive Therapy, and the Associate Director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy (AICT) in Manhattan. He currently serves as an Adjunct Assistant Clinical Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, and previously served as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Albert Einstein Medical School, and as an instructor to psychiatric residents at New York Medical College. Dr. Tirch regularly conducts Compassion Focused Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and CBT training workshops for healthcare professionals in the New York area. He is a prolific writer, who has authored several books includingThe Compassionate Mind Guide to Overcoming Anxiety. His most recent work isThe ACT Practitioner’s Guide to the Science of Compassion (New Harbinger) with Benjamin Schoendorff, MA, MS and Laura Silberstein, PsyD.Dr. Tirch is Co-Founder and Past President of NYC-ACBS, he was a Founding Participant in an ACT Peer Consultation Group for New York City and Environs (ACTNYCE), and currently serves as Chair of the ACBS Communications and Publications Committee.


Mike Femenella, Ph.D.

Feb 7, 2015

"Into the Heart of ACT"
The Purpose of this workshop is to simplify Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and make it more user-friendly for both clinician and patient without losing its richness. The six core ACT processes (acceptance, defusion, self-as-context, contact with the present moment, values, & committed action) will be conceptualized using everyday terms such as "love," "courage," and "hurt." This workshop is designed to be useful for therapists and students who are new to the model as well as experienced ACT therapists who want to broaden their therapeutic repertoire. This full day of training will include didactic presentation and discussion, experiential exercises, clinical techniques, and time for questions and answers.


Paul Wachtel, PhD & Mark Sisti, PhD

October 24, 2015

Third Generation & Integrative Workshop:

Third generation CBT's such as Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP) will be explored alongside Relational Psychoanalysis and Cyclical Psychodynamics. Didactic, experiential and video case presentations, will respectively explore trans-diagnostic and trans-theoretical common ground among contextual conceptualizations and interventions.