The ACT Workbook for Depression and Shame: Overcome Thoughts of Defectiveness and Increase Well-Being Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy


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Conquer your self-defeating beliefs and create a more fulfilling life!

Do you feel like you’re broken? Are you depressed because you believe that you’re somehow defective, unwanted, or inferior? Do you feel self-conscious and insecure, constantly comparing yourself to others? Are you sensitive to criticism, or terrified of rejection?

Feeling flawed and inadequate often stems from negative childhood experiences. If you grew up in a highly critical environment, you might feel unworthy of being loved, or have a deep sense of shame about your perceived defects. You may tell yourself there is something inherently wrong with you that prevents you from forming satisfying relationships, finding happiness, and succeeding in life. So, how can free yourself from the self-defeating beliefs that keep you trapped in the depths of depression?

Grounded in evidence-based acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), this workbook will give you the tools to identify and dismiss your core beliefs of personal defectiveness, and build a life based on positive choices and values that bring vitality and a sense of personal fulfillment. You’ll discover ways to develop psychological flexibility, freeing yourself from old habits and unhealthy coping mechanisms, and alleviating symptoms of depression. Finally, you’ll learn to see yourself in all your wonderful complexity, with kindness and compassion.

The truth is you are not broken, and painful memories of the past do not have to dictate your future. If you’re ready to heal and treat yourself to the care and compassion you deserve, this book will show you how.


“Some of our greatest lessons result from experiencing shame if we are able to learn from the emotion. McKay, Greenberg, and Fanning illuminate the foundation of shame in defectiveness schemas; and the negative, automatic thoughts and coping mechanisms that accompany this behavioral pattern. They help readers recognize the thoughts associated with the experience of shame in defectiveness schemas, including hypersensitivity to criticism, blame, comparison, and rejection. Through facilitating the clarification of values and employing mindfulness practices, they guide readers to an awareness of the emotion and its accompanied sensations, thoughts, and urges—skillfully demonstrating an approach that leads to accepting feelings, having self-compassion, and responding in new ways.”
—Mary Lamia, PhD, clinical psychologist, professor, and coauthor of The Upside of Shame

“For anyone struggling with depression, McKay, Greenberg, and Fanning have combined in one amazing book the key to understanding your illness and the method of unlocking its grip on your life. The authors have created a step-by-step process to rewrite negative self-beliefs, change feelings of defectiveness, live a meaningful life, and develop self-compassion. Surely anyone who follows their guidance will experience a significant life improvement.”
Jeffrey C. Wood, PsyD, psychologist, and coauthor of The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook and The New Happiness

“An incredibly powerful, well-written, and important book for addressing the feelings of inadequacy, defectiveness, shame, unlovability, and hopelessness that often come with depression. Using techniques from acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), this workbook offers valuable strategies for addressing childhood wounds, rewriting your story, and moving toward individual values and goals. It gives readers a critical opportunity to change the way they see themselves—and to subsequently change their lives.”
Rachel Zoffness, PhD, assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco; chair of the American Association of Pain Psychology; and author of The Pain Management Workbook and The Chronic Pain and Illness Workbook for Teens

“At last, a book that brings light to what most clinicians intuitively understand: the relationship between shame and depression. The authors clarify the origins and maintenance of depression by identifying and deconstructing defective schemas. Complex concepts are conveyed clearly and illustrated through case studies. Exercises and worksheets prompt the client to identify triggers and to reframe thoughts. Psychotherapists and laypersons will find this book an essential tool in treating depression.”
Cynthia Boyd, PhD, forensic neuropsychologist in independent practice in La Jolla, CA

“When someone has the belief that they are defective in some way, it can lead to a fear of getting close to others, often resulting in loneliness, depression, and shame. If you feel this way, you are not alone. This workbook will help you identify what is standing in the way of believing you are worthy of the love and acceptance that you deserve.”
Michelle Skeen, PsyD, author of Love Me, Don’t Leave Me; and coauthor of Just As You Are

“Thoughts related to shame and ‘being defective’ affect a multitude of people; for many sufferers the tendency is to shut down, hide, isolate, disconnect from others, and stop living life. Who wants that? In this workbook, the authors introduce readers to skills derived from ACT to unpack these behaviors, stop being trapped by those narratives, and start living a fulfilling life. This is a workbook that is written in plain language, with lot of examples and specific skills to put into action. I highly recommend it!”
Patricia E. Zurita Ona, PsyD, author of The ACT Workbook for Teens with OCD and Living Beyond OCD Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, director of the East Bay Behavior Therapy Center, and fellow of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science

About the Author:

Matthew McKay, PhD, is a professor at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA. He has authored and coauthored numerous books, including Self-EsteemThe Relaxation and Stress Reduction WorkbookThoughts and Feelings, and ACT on Life Not on Anger. His books combined have sold more than four million copies. He received his PhD in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology, and specializes in the cognitive behavioral treatment of anxiety and depression.

Michael Jason Greenberg, PsyD, cofacilitated a pilot study on the hybrid acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and schema therapy treatment protocol for defectiveness, which was developed by Matthew McKay and Michelle Skeen. He received his doctorate in clinical psychology in 2017, and holds his California licensure as a clinical psychologist. Michael has held many leadership roles, including serving as assistant department head for mental health at the Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms in Southern California, where he engaged active-duty personnel in evidence-based treatments for anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Patrick Fanning is a professional writer in the mental health field, and founder of a men’s support group in Northern California. He has authored and coauthored twelve self-help books, including Self-EsteemThoughts and FeelingsCouple Skills, and Mind and Emotions.


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