Portland skyline from the water


Friday March 27, 2015
8:30 AM to 4:15 PM EDT


White Pine Institute 
25 Middle Street
Portland, ME 04101

Driving Directions 


Joel Guarna 

Printable flyer for this workshop

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ACT for Chronic Pain and Medical Issues:
Moving Whole People Toward Health

About ACT
Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a contemporary form of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that has shown much promise in helping clients with a wide range of emotional and behavioral difficulties.  ACT introduces a comprehensive model of therapy including a creative set of metaphors and experiential exercises to help clients (a) move away from unworkable change strategies, (b) make healthy contact with thoughts, feelings, and other private reactions they have feared and avoided, (c) re-connect with their deepest values to set a direction for change and to motivate change, and (d) experience their struggles differently and in a manner that permits them to move forward with their lives now. 

The Society for Clinical Psychology (APA, Div. 12) has listed ACT as having “strong research support” for the treatment of Chronic or Persistent Pain and “modest research support” for the treatment of Mixed Anxiety, Depression, OCD, and Psychosis.

This Workshop
Patients with chronic pain and medical issues are often clinically complex, sometimes presenting with multiple emotional and behavioral concerns and problematic relationships with addictive substances.  Our fragmented healthcare system often fails these patients.  Models for treating whole persons with their multiple concerns are needed.  Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) provides one such model.

Using a combination of didactic presentation and experiential exercises, this workshop will introduce participants to the ACT model and its application with these clinical concerns.  Attendees will leave this training with a basic understanding of ACT approaches to therapy, use of the Matrix as a clinical tool, and with specific skills they can employ immediately.

Printable flyer for this workshop

For this workshop, I have developed a unique format that I believe will provide an excellent learning opportunity.  Participants will role-play as patients in a treatment group for chronic pain and medical issues.  We will alternate between being in role and out of role throughout the day.  A variety of ACT strategies, exercises, and metaphors will be demonstrated and later explained and unpacked in our discussion.

Small Group Training
This workshop will be held as a small group (6-15 participants) training, which I believe provides a much richer context for learning.  Which of the following workshop formats would you prefer?


(The image on the right is the actual workshop space in use.  Thanks to members of the ACT Study Group for posing!)

Dr. Joel Guarna is a licensed psychologist in the state of Maine. He earned his PhD from Bowling Green State University in 2000 and trained at the Boston Consortium in Clinical Psychology as a predoctoral intern and postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Guarna later served as a staff psychologist in the Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in Boston.  During this time, he provided individual, couples, and group treatment to veterans with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.  He directed an intensive outpatient program for veterans with addictions at the Brockton VAMC.  He provided training and supervision to psychologists-in-training and psychiatry residents as a Clinical Instructor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Guarna opened his private practice, White Pine Behavioral Health, in 2005. He now splits his time between his private practice and the Mercy Pain Center, both in Portland.

Dr. Guarna’s areas of interest and specialization include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies (CBT), Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), mind/body health and mindfulness-based therapies, health psychology, addictions treatment, and treatment of anxiety and mood disorders, trauma and PTSD. He was introduced to ACT in 1999 and has attended and given numerous talks and trainings on ACT over the past several years.  Dr. Guarna's Website | CV

Continuing Education
Psychologists and alcohol and drug counselors in Maine: White Pine Institute has submitted application for continuing education approval for psychologists (6 CEs) and alcohol and drug counselors (6 CEs) through the appropriate boards. Counselors and social workers in Maine: Appropriate documentation will be provided so counselors and social workers can submit for continuing education to their respective boards. Out of state therapists and other health care providers: Documentation of your attendance will be provided for you to use should you decide to seek CE approval from your respective board.

  • This event is open to health care and behavioral health care professionals only. 
  • If you require any special accommodations, please be sure to contact me well before the date of the event. 
  • Please review our Cancelation/Refund, Grievance, and other Policies HERE.  

Register Now!

Regular Registration fee is $120

This is a small group training and registration
will be closed when the workshop is full.


(Sorry, the Early Registration slots went very quickly!)