Friday, 20 July 2018

ACT in the Workplace - Guest webinar with Soma Analytics

I was delighted to be a guest on the Soma Analytics webinar. Co-founder, Christopher Lorenz, was a fantastic host and we had a great conversation.

You can catch the whole webinar below.

I'm very grateful to Nicky Hemmings - Soma's lead psychologist and Dominika Galusa - Marketing lead for making it all happen.

You can find out more about Soma Analytics here

Sunday, 15 July 2018

The science of vacations with Shannon Horan

This episode is essential pre-holiday listening as this week I welcomed Shannon Horan to People Soup. Shannon is a PhD student at City, University of London and specialises, amongst other things, in exploring work recovery through vacations. You can hear about the theory of vacations from work, get an insight into Shannon's research, get some top tips and there's an opportunity to get involved in Shannon's next study. All in 22 minutes.





Episode Notes

You can get in touch with Shannon to ask any questions and participate in her next study by emailing her at

If you're interested in work recovery you should also check out Episode 6 of People Soup - Getting Unplugged.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Chat with Paul Flaxman about the ACBS World Conference

Another guest - I'm on a roll. This time I welcome Dr Paul Flaxman to People Soup. We talk about the upcoming ACBS Conference in Montreal and give a glimpse of the research we'll be presenting about ACT Training in the Workplace. At the conference we're also planning to share the development of our ACT in the Workplace protocol.





Episode Notes

Dr Evadne Hinge and Dame Hilda Bracket

ACBS Conference

Blurb about our Symposium

115. ACT in the workplace: Understanding how ACT interventions improve employees' mental health Symposium (1:20-2:50pm) 
Location: Rue Sainte-Catherine 

Chair: Paul Flaxman, Ph.D., City, University of London 
Discussant: Frank Bond, Goldsmiths, University of London 
Presenter: Ross McIntosh, City, University of London

There is growing interest in the use of ACT to help improve mental health in workplace settings. Previous studies have shown that ACT is effective in improving workplace well-being, and the beneficial effects are often mediated via increases on general measures of psychological flexibility. However few studies have offered more in depth explorations of how ACT improves employees’ functioning. This symposium reports three intervention studies seeking to address this issue. 

The first paper is a mixed methods study, evaluating the effects of a 4-session ACT training programme on teachers’ mental health; 34 of these participants were interviewed to understand how ACT-based processes are manifesting in employees’ daily life. 

School teachers’ experiences of a workplace ACT intervention - mixed methods study.

Dr. Paul Flaxman, City, University of London; Ross McIntosh, City, University of London; Shannon Horan, City, University of London; Jeff Salter, Mind the Gap Transformations; Dr. Julia Yates, City, University of London.

The second study explored various potential processes of change, including increases in positive affect, behavioural activation and cognitive defusion. The findings indicate the defusion is an influential process of change in these brief interventions. 

ACT in the workplace: Exploration of multiple processes of change. Dr. Paul Flaxman, City, University of London Dr. Nigel Guenole, Goldsmiths, University of London; Dr. Joda Llloyd, Goldsmiths, University of London; Professor Frank Bond, Goldsmiths, University of London.

Finally, study 3 directly compares ACT and mindfulness training in a workplace setting. The results suggest that ACT and mindfulness training improve employees’ mental health via similar processes of change. 

A randomized controlled comparison of worksite applications of ACT and mindfulness training: Investigating attentional and attitudinal mediators of change. Paul Flaxman, City, University of London; Dr. Vasiliki Christodoulou, Cyprus Mental Health Services; Dr. Joe Oliver, Contextual Consulting, UK; Dr. Eric Morris, La Trobe University; Dr. Nigel Guenole, Goldsmiths, University of London.

Educational Objectives: 1. Describe how ACT processes manifest in employees’ daily lives. 2. Assess ACT’s processes of change when delivered in workplace settings. 3. Explain how ACT compares to a similar-length mindfulness training program in a workplace context. 

My pre-conference workshop

Using metaphor in training psychological flexibility – 
Niklas Törneke, M.D., Carmen Luciano, Ph.D., Kelly Koerner, Ph.D.

The workshop we are particularly interested in 


140. ACT in Groups Workshop (9:00am-12:05pm) 
Components: Experiential exercises, Didactic presentation 
Categories: Clinical Interventions and Interests, 
Group Therapy Target Audience: Interm., Adv. 
Location: Av. Laurier / Av. Viger S U N D A Y 
M. Joann Wright, Linden Oaks Medical Group 
Darrah Westrup, Private Practice 

Article from Nursing Times - click here

 Authors: Teresa Jennings is consultant clinical psychologist at Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust; Paul E Flaxman is reader in organisational psychology at City, University of London; Kath Egdell is staff counsellor, Simon Pestell is clinical psychologist; Elaine Whipday is counselling psychologist; and Alison Herbert is CBT therapist, all at Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Act and Us with Maddy Scott

This is part two of my conversation with friend and fellow organisational psychologist, Maddy Scott. We talk about how we've used ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) in our lives. Maddy talks about her mindfulness practice and how she introduced values on a family holiday leading to an adventure on the high seas (grand canal). I also talk about my values in relation to sharing and training skills in ACT.

We finish with an invitation to have a go at an exercise - a suggestion for a playful way on how to practice bringing values to life using the list in the episode notes.

Episode Notes






Below is a list of values from Russ Harris. Have a look through them and see if one leaps out at you. See if you can find opportunities to express that value in any area of life over the next few days. Remember - small is beautiful. 

The notice how you got on, go back to the list, and repeat!

If you want to share and report back - please do get in touch at:

@rossmccoach on twitter

Or a fledgling new twitter account @peoplesouppod

Instagram - people.soup

Values List [Copyright Russ Harris 2010]

1. Acceptance: to be open to and accepting of myself, others, life etc 
2. Adventure: to be adventurous; to actively seek, create, or explore novel or stimulating experiences 3. Assertiveness: to respectfully stand up for my rights and request what I want 
4. Authenticity: to be authentic, genuine, real; to be true to myself 
5. Beauty: to appreciate, create, nurture or cultivate beauty in myself, others, the environment etc 
6. Caring: to be caring towards myself, others, the environment etc 
7. Challenge: to keep challenging myself to grow, learn, improve 
8. Compassion: to act with kindness towards those who are suffering 
9. Connection: to engage fully in whatever I am doing, and be fully present with others 
10. Contribution: to contribute, help, assist, or make a positive difference to myself or others 
11. Conformity: to be respectful and obedient of rules and obligations 
12. Cooperation: to be cooperative and collaborative with others 
13. Courage: to be courageous or brave; to persist in the face of fear, threat, or difficulty 
14. Creativity: to be creative or innovative 
15. Curiosity: to be curious, open-minded and interested; to explore and discover 
16. Encouragement: to encourage and reward behaviour that I value in myself or others 
17. Equality: to treat others as equal to myself, and vice-versa 
18. Excitement: to seek, create and engage in activities that are exciting, stimulating or thrilling 
19. Fairness: to be fair to myself or others 
20. Fitness: to maintain or improve my fitness; to look after my physical and mental health and wellbeing 
21. Flexibility: to adjust and adapt readily to changing circumstances 
22. Freedom: to live freely; to choose how I live and behave, or help others do likewise 
23. Friendliness: to be friendly, companionable, or agreeable towards others 
24. Forgiveness: to be forgiving towards myself or others 
25. Fun: to be fun-loving; to seek, create, and engage in fun-filled activities 
26. Generosity: to be generous, sharing and giving, to myself or others 
27. Gratitude: to be grateful for and appreciative of the positive aspects of myself, others and life 
28. Honesty: to be honest, truthful, and sincere with myself and others 
29. Humour: to see and appreciate the humorous side of life 
30. Humility: to be humble or modest; to let my achievements speak for themselves     
31. Industry: to be industrious, hard-working, dedicated 
32. Independence: to be self-supportive, and choose my own way of doing things 
33. Intimacy: to open up, reveal, and share myself -- emotionally or physically – in my close personal relationships 
34. Justice: to uphold justice and fairness 
35. Kindness: to be kind, compassionate, considerate, nurturing or caring towards myself or others 36. Love: to act lovingly or affectionately towards myself or others 
37. Mindfulness: to be conscious of, open to, and curious about my here-and-now experience 
38. Order: to be orderly and organized 
39. Open-mindedness: to think things through, see things from other’s points of view, and weigh evidence fairly. 
40. Patience: to wait calmly for what I want.
41. Persistence: to continue resolutely, despite problems or difficulties. 
42. Pleasure: to create and give pleasure to myself or others 
43. Power: to strongly influence or wield authority over others, e.g. taking charge, leading, organizing 44. Reciprocity: to build relationships in which there is a fair balance of giving and taking 
45. Respect: to be respectful towards myself or others; to be polite, considerate and show positive regard 
46. Responsibility: to be responsible and accountable for my actions 
47. Romance: to be romantic; to display and express love or strong affection 
48. Safety: to secure, protect, or ensure safety of myself or others 
49. Self-awareness: to be aware of my own thoughts, feelings and actions 
50. Self-care: to look after my health and wellbeing, and get my needs met 
51. Self-development: to keep growing, advancing or improving in knowledge, skills, character, or life experience. 
52. Self-control: to act in accordance with my own ideals 
53. Sensuality: to create, explore and enjoy experiences that stimulate the five senses 
54. Sexuality: to explore or express my sexuality 
55. Spirituality: to connect with things bigger than myself 
56. Skilfulness: to continually practice and improve my skills, and apply myself fully when using them 
57. Supportiveness: to be supportive, helpful, encouraging, and available to myself or others 
58. Trust: to be trustworthy; to be loyal, faithful, sincere, and reliable 
59. Insert your own unlisted value here: 
60. Insert your own unlisted value here: 

Sunday, 24 June 2018

How we got into ACT with Maddy Scott

Welcome to Episode 13 of People Soup where I'm in conversation with my very first guest - friend and fellow organisational psychologist, Maddy Scott. We're both students and practitioners of ACT. ACT is the acronym for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy which we use in our work in organisations and in coaching. 

Here we talk about what first caught our attention about ACT, how we got hooked and what we'd recommend in terms of resources for those who'd like to find out more. 

I'm pretty pleased with how this has turned out so let me know what you think.

You can listen on:

and many other podcast providers.

Episode notes

Maddy's book recommendation - "Things might go terribly, horribly wrong: A guide to life liberated from anxiety." Kelly G Wilson & Troy Dufrene

My book recommendation - "The Happiness Trap" Russ Harris.

You can also search for Russ Harris on youtube for lots of helpful and accessible videos.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Leadership and the Triflex

This week I share some of my own qualitative research. Through interviews with senior leaders in large public sector organisations I explored the ways in which they fulfilled their leadership roles and experienced organisational politics - all through the lens of psychological flexibility.

Psychological flexibility is something that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) aims to strengthen. It's made up of six processes. In this podcast I represent those processes with the triflex.

Click here to listen.

[Harris, 2009]

I thought it might be fun to share the experiences of my research subjects to show how the processes can show up at work and help you spot them in your own behaviour.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Body and Breath Exercise

The podcast is a bit different this week. I've had a few requests for a mindfulness practice recording - so here it is - just under 8 minutes - a guided meditation of the body and the breath. 

Click here to listen and have a go! I'd love to know how you get on.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

A thousand words

In this episode I use behavioural science to explore the decline in my sketching and cartooning activity and give some top tips on how to apply the same techniques to work and life in general. I commit to publishing a sketch or cartoon every day for the next 30 days on instagram and twitter - so you can follow my progress.

Click here to listen to Episode 10 on soundcloud.

The key questions I recommend to use to explore something that you've stopped doing at work that matters to you are as follows:

1. What's important to me about X or Y? Why does it matter to me?

2. What's my mind saying about X or Y?

Episode Notes

The song by David Gates is called 'If' and you can watch a live performance here.

You can check out the work of the brilliant Christoph Neimann here and his instagram feed is here.

And the book by Tom Gallwey is called - The Inner Game of Tennis.

Other Links to people soup




Sunday, 20 May 2018

Noticing the cave dweller

After a week off - spent in the glorious city of Valencia in Spain - you can now listen to episode 9 of People Soup podcast. In this - I draw upon my experience of bike rental in Spain - using it to illustrate our cave dweller mind - our minds often produce content which isn't helpful to us - but can have a significant impact on our behaviour. Our minds aren't broken - they're doing what they're designed to do. I describe the three key features of our cave dweller mind as:

  • Danger, Lookout!
  • Belong!
  • More, more, more.

By noticing our cave dweller mind we can choose to take a route that is perhaps more helpful to moving towards what matters to us.

Listen to Episode 9 by clicking here!

Photos by Helen P.

Episode notes:

You can find People Soup on many podcast providers - including




Metaphors for Life podcast

I've also discovered a podcast that relates closely to mine - it's produced by James Hardie - up in Edinburgh and it's called metaphors for life - well worth a listen

You can find it on itunes here - metaphors for life podcast

Monday, 7 May 2018

Two gears of the mind

In Episode 8 of People Soup - I aim to strengthen the case for practicing present moment awareness or mindfulness.

I present the two modes of mind - or two gears of the mind - the thinking gear and the sensing gear. Learn about the difference and how to access the, sometimes unfamiliar, sensing gear.

The following diagram is referred to in the podcast.

Click here to listen on SoundCloud.

Click here to listen on itunes 

Episode Notes

Check out the #365daysofcompassion on twitter and facebook - brilliantly curated by Chris Winson (@chisi_98) 

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression (Segal, Williams and Teasdale, 2013)
Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World (Williams & Penman, 2011)
Search inside yourself (Tan, Goleman and Kabbat-Zinn,  2014)