Scientific Behaviour Change - The Weekend University

Explore how these pioneering approaches to behaviour change can improve our lives, and our world.

Usually, when trying to make a change, we think willpower is the answer.

If we just try harder and be more disciplined, it’ll work this time.

But very often, it doesn’t.

A 2016 study found that 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by the second week in February.

Whether we want to give up smoking, start exercising, or commit to a new habit, often we find our best efforts fall to the wayside, and after a few weeks we’re right back to where we started.

Worse still, now we feel guilty we’ve ‘failed’ which can make us feel less motivated to try again in the future.

Could it be that most of us are just lazy and irresponsible? Or might it be that we don’t understand the actual science of changing behaviour? In other words, might our common sense about behaviour change be wrong?

A growing body of research indicates that if we want to make changes that last, willpower is not the answer.

Rather, it is the context around the behaviour that counts.

Every action we take is situated within both a historical and situational context. And, it is only by understanding the context surrounding a behaviour, can we empower ourselves to change it.

So, in this online conference, we’ll explore three cutting-edge contextual approaches to behaviour change, and how they can be applied to create changes that last; both individually and collectively.


  • Psychedelics, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy & Behaviour Change; the rapidly growing evidence base for how psychedelics and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are being interwoven to help people improve their wellbeing and create lasting and meaningful changes in their lives – Henry Whitfield
  •  Using Evolutionary Science to Change Behaviour; why understanding human behaviour from an evolutionary point of view can be a catalyst for any kind of change process, and how evolutionary principles can be applied as a practical toolkit for improving the quality of our lives; both individually and collectively – Professor David Sloan Wilson
  • Nurturance, Psychological Flexibility & Behaviour Change; the critical role our environment plays in shaping who we become, why creating nurturing environments may be the ‘master variable’ in behaviour change, and how we can apply the new science of human behaviour to evolve more nurturing societies which improve our lives, and the world – Dr Anthony Biglan

You’ll learn how these pioneering approaches can help you create lasting changes in your own life, and in the lives of others.

Event Schedule:

  • 10:00am – 12:00pm: Psychedelics, ACT & Behaviour Change – Henry Whitfield
  • 12:00 – 1:00pm: Lunch break
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm: Using Evolutionary Science to Change Behaviour – Professor David Sloan Wilson
  • 3:00pm – 3:30pm: Afternoon break
  • 3:30pm – 5:00pm: Nurturance, Psychological Flexibility & Behaviour Change – Dr Anthony Biglan

Full Day Pass: £49.99 (includes VAT + Booking Fee)

Student/Unwaged: £26.99 (includes VAT + Booking Fee)


Sunday 28th March 2021

10:00 – 17:00 GMT

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28/03/2021 10:00 AM
28/03/2021 5:00 PM
Online Video Conference
The Weekend University – Scientific Behaviour Change

Online Video Conference

Lectures & Speakers

Psychedelics, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy & Behaviour Change – Henry Whitfield

Research is showing the psychedelics increase neuroplasticity, mindful behaviour and psychological flexibility considerably. According to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), these latter are pivotal to behaviour change. In addition, many leading researchers and clinicians have singled out ACT to be the most appropriate evidence-based therapy to inform and develop a modern psychedelic therapy because its processes happen to mirror and reinforce what psychedelic participants naturally experience.

This talk will detail a number of case studies of dramatic behaviour change following a psychedelic experience that was supported with ACT. These include successful treatments of social anxiety, long term childhood trauma and family issues, detailing participant accounts and day-to-day changes in psychological flexibility. The presentation will detail precisely how an ACT-consistent therapeutic intervention can be tailored to deepen and build on the life changing effects of psychedelics, and highlight challenges a psychedelic therapist may need to prepare for. The session will also offer some experiential exercises for taking new perspectives on the self or ego for behaviour change. We will also consider the broader systemic implications of new thresholds of psychological flexibility for cultural change.

Preparation Recommendations:

Books and Articles: 

  • Barrett, F. S., Doss, M. K., Sepeda, N. D., Pekar, J. J., & Griffiths, R. R. (2020). Emotions and brain function are altered up to one month after a single high dose of psilocybin. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-14.
  • Sloshower, J., Guss, J., Krause, R., Wallace, R. M., Williams, M. T., Reed, S., & Skinta, M. D. (2020). Psilocybin-assisted therapy of major depressive disorder using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as a therapeutic frame. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 15, 12-19.
  • Watts, R., & Luoma, J. B. (2020). The use of the psychological flexibility model to support psychedelic assisted therapy. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 15, 92-102.
  • Luoma, J. B., Davis, A. K., Watts, R., & McCracken, L. M. (2020). Integrating Contextual Behavioral Science with Research on Psychedelic Assisted Therapy: Introduction to the Special Section.
  • Ly, C., Greb, A. C., Cameron, L. P., Wong, J. M., Barragan, E. V., Wilson, P. C., … & Duim, W. C. (2018). Psychedelics promote structural and functional neural plasticity. Cell reports, 23(11), 3170-3182.
  • Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G. (2012). Acceptance and commitment therapy: The process and practice of mindful change. Guilford Press.
  • Bourzat, F., & Hunter, K. (2019). Consciousness Medicine: Indigenous Wisdom, Entheogens, and Expanded States of Consciousness for Healing Healing and Growth. North Atlantic Books.
  • Belser, A. B., Agin-Liebes, G., Swift, T. C., Terrana, S., Devenot, N., Friedman, H. L., … & Ross, S. (2017). Patient experiences of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy: an interpretative phenomenological analysis. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 57(4), 354-388.
Henry Whitfield - The Weekend University

Henry Whitfield MSc (CBT) is a Visiting Research Fellow at Regents School of Psychology and Psychotherapy, Regents University London, investigating the process of psychedelic behaviour change with high-density longitudinal data, using ACT-consistent interventions. He is also a highly experienced psychological therapist and supervisor, having trained mental health professionals in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for 14 years. 

He is an Association of Contextual Behavioural Science (ACBS) Peer-reviewed ACT trainer, and Senior Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) Trainer and therapist with many years of experience working with Trauma.

Using Evolutionary Science to Change Behaviour – Professor David Sloan Wilson

Many people use words such as “evolve” and “adapt” to talk about personal and cultural change, but few think to consult the actual science of change–evolutionary science. This is largely because the study of evolution was confined to genetic evolution for most of the 20th century, relegating the study of personal and cultural change to other disciplines, which developed largely in isolation from each other and sometimes in perceived opposition to evolutionary theory. The result is an archipelago of knowledge and practice, which lacks the integration that evolutionary theory is in a position to provide. I will describe what it means to say “nothing about X makes sense except in the light of evolution”, where X can be “biology”, “humanity”, “culture”, and “policy”. 

Reading Recommendations:

David Sloan Wilson - The Weekend University

David Sloan Wilson is one of the world’s foremost evolutionary thinkers and a gifted communicator about evolution to the general public. He is SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University. In addition to his teaching and research, David is President of Prosocial World – an organisation which aims to catalyze positive cultural change to consciously evolve who we are, how we connect with each other, and how we interact with the planet.

David is passionate about making evolution more accessible to a wider audience, and was invited to speak with the Dalai Lama about his work in 2019. He is the author of several books on evolutionary theory, including: “Atlas Hugged” (his first novel), “This View of Life”, “Evolution for Everyone”, “Darwin’s Cathedral”, “Does Altruism Exist?”, and the co-author of “Prosocial”, along with Paul Atkins and Steven Hayes. You can learn more about David’s work at  and

Nurturance, Psychological Flexibility & Behaviour Change – Dr Anthony Biglan, PhD

 This talk will describe how we can evolve more nurturing societies. The human and biological sciences have converged in recent years in showing that individuals and human groups are most likely to thrive in nurturing conditions. Nurturing environments minimize toxic biological and social conditions, richly reinforce diverse forms of prosocial behaviour, limit influences and opportunities for antisocial or unhealthful behaviour, and promote psychological flexibility, which involves mindfully acting in the service of one’s values. 

Considerable research has shown how we can create these conditions. The talk will review what we know about the development of antisocial behaviour and antisocial groups. It will then describe family, school, and community programs and policies that foster prosocial development. Finally, it will describe the growing movement to promote prosociality around the world.

Reading Recommendations:

  • Biglan A. Rebooting Capitalism: How behavioral science can forge a society that works for everyone. Eugene, OR: Values to Action; 2020.
  • Biglan A, Johansson M, Van Ryzin M, Embry D. Scaling up and scaling out: Consilience and the evolution of more nurturing societies. Clinical Psychology Review. 2020.
  • Biglan A. The nurture effect: How the science of human behavior can improve our lives and our world. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger; 2015.
Anthony Biglan - The Weekend University

Anthony Biglan Ph.D. is a Senior Scientist at Oregon Research Institute and President of Values to Action. His book, The Nurture Effect: How the science of human behaviour can improve our lives and our world, describes how behavioural science research has brought us to the point where it is possible to evolve a society in which virtually every person is living a productive life in caring relationships with others. His new book, Rebooting Capitalism: How we can forge a society that works for everyone, explains how we evolved a form of capitalism over the last 50 years that has impoverished millions of Americans, undermined the regulation of harmful business practices, and corrupted most of the major sectors of society. The book provides a roadmap for how we can evolve a more nurturing form of capitalism.

What TWU attendees are saying:

    5 star review  A well spent Sunday, great value, fabulous speakers and a brilliant setup. Well done Neil. Already booked for next month. Highly recommend today’s event and sorry I didn’t go sooner.

    Irene Grindell Avatar Irene Grindell
    May 27, 2018

    positive review  I attended an Existential Coaching seminar out of curiosity and ended up being supermotivated and serious to get more into this subject! The event was really went organised, the venue was central and easy to find and the organisers and facilitator were amazing. Totally recomend!

    Fiora Maya Touliatou Avatar Fiora Maya Touliatou
    August 28, 2019

    positive review  A breath of fresh air for CPD and counselling and therapy. A non- pompous or overly academic but provides an accessible, rigorous friendly and practical learning experience.

    Simon Hudson Avatar Simon Hudson
    April 23, 2020
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