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The DC VAMC was excited to receive a MIRECC recovery small grant to fund a training for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for depression (ACT-D), from January 2019-January 2020. ACT-D is recognized by the VA as an evidenced-base therapy intervention to treat depression, and the ACT-D national training initiative funds regional trainers and consultation to promote implementation of this intervention. However, as VISN 5 does not currently have an ACT-D trainer, Dr. Pamela Steadman-Wood, an ACT-D trainer and consultant located at the Providence VAMC, graciously accepted our request to have her travel down to DC. The MIRECC grant was essential to being able to provide this training, as it was able to successfully cover her travel expenses.
Dr. Steadman-Wood trained 11 permanent staff and two interns who were completing a minor rotation in ACT, and all staff members successfully completed consultation within six months of the training. The number of Veterans who have had access to ACT-D has jumped to 46 unique Veterans in October 2019 compared to nine right before the consultation began in October 2018, as measured by the evidence base psychotherapy (EBP) note template dashboard. The ACT training has been an integral part of our facility’s suicide prevention initiative, and we continue to move forward in implementation efforts with further establishment of the ACT minor rotation in internship, additional ACT groups, ACT peer consultation, and providers who have been identified as candidates for being ACT consultants and hopefully regional ACT trainers themselves after that.
Several providers noted that they found the training successful, as well as a wonderful opportunity to connect with other psychologists from a variety of clinics. Says one clinician, “the consultation process really supported me in slowing down to engage in present-moment, experiential work with my patients. The metaphors became less didactic and I was able to apply them more naturally with my patients’ individual experiences.” Another clinician noted, “the ACT training helped me develop a new and important perspective on Veterans’ issues that has broad application across disorders. I am deeply appreciative of the training.”
We are grateful for the opportunity to implement ACT in our medical center with the support of the MIRECC recovery small grant and look forward to continuing to evaluate the role of ACT in treatment engagement and outcomes both within and across clinics. In a recent check in with the ACT-D providers, they continue to report utilizing the therapy (which is supported by the EBP dashboard) and that they continue to find it helpful!