Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Symposium #50
Int'l Symposium - Pushing the Frontiers of Acceptance-Based Research: We're Not in Kansas Anymore
Saturday, May 28, 2005
2:30 PM–3:50 PM
Private Dining Room 1 (3rd floor)
Area: CBM; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Bryan T. Roche (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
Abstract: Acceptance-based approaches to human psychopathology have received considerable attention from clinical behavior analysts over the past five years. Perhaps the most widely k known product of this interest is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which is based explicitly on traditional behavioral principles and the concept of derived stimulus relations. While there is considerable excitement regarding the potentials of acceptance-based approaches to treatment, however, many conceptual and empirical questions remain regarding their deployment and effectiveness in a range of therapeutic contexts. The first paper in this session outlines the characteristic features of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and explains its particular interest in the problems caused by the client’s struggles to control and avoid unwanted thoughts and feelings. An overview of recent efforts to develop a unified treatment protocol for anxiety sufferers is also provided. The next two papers in the session describe experimental analyses designed to test the effectiveness of an acceptance-based intervention for pain tolerance and experiential avoidance, respectively. Finally, the fourth paper describes a study examining the relative effectiveness of acceptance and control-based interventions for smoking cessation.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Disorders: On the Frontier of Process-Oriented Treatment Protocols
JOHN P. FORSYTH (State University of New York, Albany), Georg H. Eifert (Chapman University)
Abstract: Persons suffering from anxiety disorders enter therapy for one main reason, namely, they do not like how they think and feel. For them, anxious thoughts and feelings are suffering and the cause of life impairment. Thus, they must be regulated, even at significant personal cost. Virtually allcognitive-behavior therapies play into this system and teach clients that(a) their thoughts and feelings are the cause of their suffering and lifeproblems; (b) that in order to live a happy and successful life they need to become better at mastering (i.e., controlling or reducing) unwanted thoughts and feelings; (c) therapy is going to give them new techniques to accomplish better control of their private experiences; and (d) if and when clients arebetter at controlling their anxious thoughts and feelings, they will thenbecome better at living a happy and productive life. Here, we suggest aradically different treatment strategy, namely to address the struggle to control and avoid unwanted thoughts and feelings directly. This means addressing the agenda of anxiety regulation itself. In this presentation, we provide an overview of our recent efforts to develop a unified treatmentprotocol for anxiety sufferers. This protocol is based on Acceptance andCommitment Therapy and emphasizes core processes that contribute to making anxiety and fear "disordered" in a clinical sense. We discuss conceptual and practical challenges we faced in our attempt to develop and manualize this treatment, and the prospects of doing so.
Acceptance and Pain Tolerance: The Role of Trait Anxiety Levels in the Effectiveness of Acceptance-Based Interventions for Pain
BRYAN T. ROCHE (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Mark Doyle (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Therese O'Donohue (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
Abstract: The current study extends upon Hayes, Bissett, Korn, Zettle, Rosenfarb, Cooper and Grunt (1999), which compared the impact of control versus acceptance-based coping rationales on subjects' tolerance for pain. In the current study, the effect of subjects’ trait anxiety levels on the effectiveness of an acceptance-based intervention was examined. Specifically, a group of high trait anxiety and a group of low trait anxiety subjects were recruited through extensive psychometric sampling of an undergraduate population. Baseline levels of pain tolerance were recorded for each subject, using a cold pressor task, before they were exposed to a brief acceptance rationale for pain tolerance, or a placebo social interaction. Cold-pressor performances were also recorded for each subject immediately following the intervention. Adherence measures were taken and subjective ratings of pain and state anxiety levels were recorded before and after interventions. The results suggest an interaction between trait anxiety levels and the impact of acceptance interventions in the therapeutic context.
Flex Those Emotions! An Emotional Flexibility Intervention for Experiential Avoidance
SARAH O'CONNOR (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Ruth Melia (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Bryan T. Roche (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
Abstract: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy involves teaching clients to stay present to the aversive functions of feared events without attempting to avoid, escape or alter the private experience. A series of experiential exercises, such as deliteralization, have been devised to teach clients how to do this. Together the array of exercises might be referred to as emotional flexibility training. The current study examined the effect of such training on subjects’ acquisition of avoidance behavior and the subsequent derived transfer of an avoidance response to arbitrarily related stimuli. To achieve this, subjects were first required to make observation responses to a series of both positive and negative statements regarding a range of nonsense syllables presented on a computer screen. All subjects were then exposed to equivalence training using these stimuli and leading to the formation of two three-member equivalence relations among them. One member from each class was then established as an Sd for the avoidance of an aversive visual stimulus. Probes were also administered for the derived transfer of this avoidance response to a nonsense syllable. The results suggest that there is some merit in the use of emotional flexibility training as an inoculation against the emergence of experiential avoidance.
A Comparison Between Two Psychological Treatments Oriented to Smoking-Cessation: Acceptance Versus Control Strategies
MONICA HERNÁNDEZ-LOPEZ (University of Almeria, Spain), Jesus Gil Roales Neto (University of Almeria, Spain), Carmen Luciano Soriano (University of Almeria, Spain), Francisco Montesinos (University of Almeria, Spain)
Abstract: A well-documented fact about smoking is that the maintenance of this unhealthy habit is, to a great extent, due to attempts to avoid aversive sensations resulting from nicotinic abstinence. Recent behavioral therapeutic approaches based on the acceptance of aversive private events have been successfully employed in the treatment of a wide array of psychological problems. According to this, the present study compares two different psychological treatments aimed at smoking-cessation. One of them focuses in the acceptance of aversive private events related to nicotinic abstinence, and consists of an adaptation of the core components of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). The other one focuses in controlling these private aversive experiences, and consists of a multi-component cognitive-behavioral intervention program that is currently employed by the Spanish Association against Cancer. Both treatments were group-administered with an equal number of sessions to different groups of smokers. Treatment and post-treatment results are presented with up to one-year follow-up, indicating a higher effectiveness of the ACT-based treatment.



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