#272 – The Happiness Trap with Russ Harris, MD

Dr Russ Harris, MD is a physician, psychotherapist and executive coach. As a GP he became increasingly interested in the psychological aspects of health and wellbeing (and increasingly disenchanted with writing prescriptions). Ultimately this interest led to a total career change, and he now works in two different, yet complementary roles: as a therapist and as a life coach. He is also the author of the 2007 self-help book, The Happiness Trap, a best-seller, now published in over twenty-two countries and seventeen different languages.

Over the years, he has trained in many types of therapy and coaching, but when he discovered Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, (ACT), a unique and creative mindfulness-based behavioural therapy, he was so deeply impressed that he immediately went to the U.S.A. to train with its creators, Steve Hayes, Kelly Wilson, and Kirk Strosahl. Since then, he has been back many times, and is now an internationally-renowned ACT trainer.

Russ has a unique model for training, which he calls ‘ACT Made Simple’, because it covers so much material in a short space of time. (In fact, he even has even written an introductory textbook on ACT, titled ‘ACT Made Simple’. To download the first two chapters, click here.) He proudly proclaims each workshop a ‘jargon-free zone’ – and bases his training on three core values: simplicity, clarity, and having fun.
Since 2005, Russ has travelled all around Australia, and internationally, providing workshops and training for a wide variety of health professionals, from coaches and counsellors, to psychologists and psychiatrists. His highly-acclaimed ACT workshops are typically brief, powerful, cost-effective and life-enhancing. Participants regularly report not only major improvements in their therapy and/or coaching, but also in their personal lives – and evaluation forms frequently praise his ability to make complex ideas seem very simple.

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A psychology podcast by David Van Nuys, Ph.D.



  1. Posted August 4, 2011 at 4:52 am | Permalink

    Not about thoughts being true huh?

    So I guess his objection to Happiness Psychology isn’t that it is untrue to our experience? I guess he should just train his thoughts to think positively about Happiness Psychology – which is sort of what Happiness Psychology advocates.

    If Russ didn’t think that pain was inevitable would he be happier? Perhaps he could sing this belief to get free of it.

    Is experiential avoidance true or ‘just’ a thought?

    Still this kind of contradiction is hardly confined to Russ’s way of doing things.

  2. Posted August 4, 2011 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    One of my problems with Marty Seligman is that he sets up psychodynamic therapy straw men.

    Eg the Intro or Preface to Authentic Happiness where he claims that therapists encourage their clients to indulge their emotions. Have you ever met one therapist who does this? I haven’t.

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