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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #357
Exploring the Hexaflex: Investigations into Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Processes and Anxiety
Monday, May 25, 2009
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
North 222 AB
Area: CBM; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Nadia Lucas (University of Mississippi)
Abstract: Anxiety is among the most common psychological difficulties in our society. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a therapeutic approach rooted in behavior analysis and has been found to be effective in numerous clinical and non-clinical populations, including populations with anxiety related difficulties. As ACT has evolved, six core processes have emerged: acceptance, cognitive defusion, present moment focus, self-as-context, committed action, and values. Research in ACT has traditionally focused on its overall effect; however, research is emerging that focuses on the impact and function of these core processes individually. The following studies are designed to look at some of the core components of ACT and their effect on difficulties with anxiety.
Does an ACT or Extinction Rationale Increase Compliance and Participation in Exposure
KATHERINE A. PETERSON (Utah State University), Mike P. Twohig (Utah State University), Gretchen Scheidel (Utah State University)
Abstract: Treatments for anxiety have almost ubiquitously included exposure techniques. A primary criticism of exposure techniques however, is the frequent problem with client’s treatment compliance due to the aversive experience of exposure tasks. The therapeutic processes identified in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) includes "committed action," which essentially utilize exposure techniques. Additionally, ACT includes several other processes (e.g. values, acceptance, etc.) that are hypothesized to be associated with client’s success in engaging in difficult or typically avoided tasks. The current study examines the effects of ACT and exposure processes associated with the treatment of anxiety. Participants (N=90) were randomly assigned to one of three intervention conditions: ACT, exposure alone, or a control condition. Pre and post measures of anxiety, willingness to experience anxiety, and willingness to experience anxiety in the future were taken.
A Component Analysis of the Impact of Defusion and Mindfulness on Test Anxiety and Performance
MICHAEL ANGELO VERNALE (IIT), Patricia Bach (Illinois Institute of Technology)
Abstract: Research suggests that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) can be an effective treatment for many anxiety disorders. There are six widely recognized core ACT processes and it as yet unclear how the different processes interact and their differential impact on treatment outcomes is not well specified. The aim of the present analog study was to determine if a single treatment component, either mindfulness or defusion, has an impact on anxiety and/or test performance. A total of 45 subjects were assigned to one of three conditions, no intervention, a mindfulness intervention, or a defusion intervention and then completed a mildly stressful computer administrated verbal test. Anxiety, psychological flexibility and mindfulness are also measured. Data collection is ongoing and we expect to show that the defusion and mindfulness interventions impact test performance in subjects with higher state or trait anxiety and that the effect of the defusion condition will increase as test anxiety increases. Findings will be discussed in the context of their contribution to a more fully elucidated component analysis of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
The Effect of Commitment and Behavior Change Processes in ACT on Public Speaking Anxiety
NADIA LUCAS (University of Mississippi), Regan M. Slater (University of Mississippi), Kelly G. Wilson (University of Mississippi), Kate Kellum (The University of Mississippi)
Abstract: Anxiety disorders have some of the highest lifetime prevalence rates of the DSM-IV diagnostic categories. Reports of distress surrounding non-clinical manifestations of anxiety, such as public speaking anxiety, are even more prevalent and can lead to considerable distress in people’s lives. Traditionally, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) based interventions have been used to alleviate the distress caused by anxiety. However recent research indicates that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) based interventions are also effective. While much of the research regarding ACT and anxiety has focused on ACT as a whole, the current study looks specifically at the impact of commitment and behavior change processes with respect to public speaking anxiety. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy-based group, a CBT-based training group, or a control condition. Analysis of the data examines the outcomes of each condition and the processes that lead to these changes.
Mindfulness at the Front of the Room: An Evaluation of ACT for Public Speaking Anxiety
REGAN M. SLATER (University of Mississippi), Nadia Lucas (University of Mississippi), Kelly G. Wilson (University of Mississippi), Kate Kellum (The University of Mississippi)
Abstract: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a behavior analytic third-wave therapy that emphasizes psychological flexibility. ACT has been broadly applied to a wide range of psychological difficulties in both clinical and non-clinical populations, including anxiety. Studies now are beginning to investigate individual core processes within ACT. The current study compared the processes and components of ACT and CBT with relation to public speaking anxiety, one of the most often endorsed anxiety-provoking situations. The researchers adapted the therapeutic models of ACT and Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy (CBGT) and developed training models for this non-clinical sample. The ACT processes included in this study were: Present Moment, Acceptance, and Defusion. This research examined the processes and components of Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) and Cognitive Behavioral Group Training (CBGT) as well as a control group. Participants were randomly assigned one of the three conditions. The efficacy and effectiveness of each training model was measured using both process and outcome measures.



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