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.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Symposium #146
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Component Interventions in the Lab and Clinic
Sunday, May 30, 2010
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Crockett C/D (Grand Hyatt)
Area: CBM; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Patricia Bach (Illinois Institute of Technology)
Abstract: The aim of this symposium is to bring together researchers to present their findings on research examining specific core processes in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. The evidence base for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and training is growing as ACT has been applied to impact a broad range of behaviors including psychiatric problems of adults and children, employee behavior in organizations, couples therapy, parenting skills, behavioral medicine, health promotion, and social change. The four research presentations address a variety of behaviors in therapy clients in treatment and college student participants in analog research, and apply different combinations of ACT components to influence behaviors including delusions, pain and rejection, social evaluations, and phobic avoidance. What these diverse projects share is that they aim to provide evidence for the utility of ACT components whether alone or combined with other evidence-based techniques. While some data collection will be ongoing, the overall findings to date support the usefulness of applying brief interventions using core ACT processes as behavior change strategies.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Reduce the Distress of Delusional Beliefs
MICHELLE T. SHEETS (Hofstra University), Emily D'Antonio (Hofstra University), Yulia Landa (Weill Cornell Medical College), Mark Serper (Hofstra University)
Abstract: Symptoms of schizophrenia have historically been resistant to psychotherapy interventions. In recent years, however, targeted cognitive behavioral therapy interventions have been shown to be effective in reducing both positive and negative symptoms. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been shown through some preliminary research to be effective with psychosis. This exploratory study investigated the effectiveness of ACT for delusions utilizing 8 treatment sessions. Participants (n=4) were outpatients who carried a diagnosis of Schizophrenia, Paranoid type. Each participant received ACT in addition to current treatment. It was hypothesized that participants would experience a decrease in delusions (measured by the Psychiatric Symptom Rating Scale, and the Characteristics of Delusions Rating Scale), overall symptoms of psychosis (measured by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, PANSS), as well as tension and anxiety (measured by the PANSS). Results suggest that the ACT intervention was associated with decreases in delusions and overall symptoms of psychosis in 3 of the 4 participants. However, changes in mindfulness, measured by the Five Facet Mindfulness Rating Scale and the White Bear Suppression Inventory, were variable. Given the limitations of this study, causal relationships cannot be established, however this data does suggest that ACT can be beneficial for patients with delusions.
If You’re Not Willing to Have It, You’ve Got It: Acceptance, Defusion and Pain Tolerance
KEVIN ZALIZNIAK (Illinois Institute of Technology)
Abstract: The experience of social ostracism has been shown to be more than merely emotionally painful, activating the same brain pathways as exposure to physical pain and cold temperatures. Participants in previous research have reported increased feelings of loneliness, lowered self-esteem, and decreased pain tolerance after experiencing induced social isolation condition from a virtual ball toss game. Many of these effects persist even after participants are presented with cogent evidence they had not been intentionally ostracized. In the present study, undergraduate participants will be asked to complete the virtual ball toss game and a cold pressor task following completion of either an acceptance and defusion based intervention or control condition. It has been previously shown that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is effective in improving management of physical pain. This study aims to extend the evidence for the effectiveness of acceptance-based interventions in affecting the impact of negative affect on pain tolerance. The implications for understanding the impact of emotional pain on physical pain behaviors will be discussed.
More Than Just Another Pretty Face: The Impact of Values Clarification on Social Judgments
BARRY J. UNIS (Illinois Institute of Technology), Patricia Bach (Illinois Institute of Technology)
Abstract: In spite of one’s best intentions, many of us evaluate others based on superficial features such as attractiveness rather than on attributes that might be less apparent and more relevant to the context in which important evaluations, such as admissions and hiring processes, are made. The present study is aimed at determining if a brief values-based intervention will influence evaluations made by students at a Midwestern urban college who will be presented with biographical information and photos of fictional people and then asked to make judgments about them using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP). In addition to the IRAP, subjects will be asked to complete an explicit evaluation questionnaire, a valued living questionnaire, and the acceptance and action questionnaire. Data collection will be ongoing through winter 2010. The applied and basic implications for the impact of values clarification on social judgments will be discussed.
Values Identification and Intervention for a Dog Phobia Intervention
PAULA E. CHAN (University of South Florida), Timothy M. Weil (University of South Florida), Erin Zandecki (University of South Florida), Gianna Lozano (University of South Florida), Krystal M. McFee (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Treatment of phobias has largely involved exposure therapy alone. Recently, Acceptance and Commitment (ACT) therapy has provided a behavior analytic approach to language that may aide in the reduction of avoidant responding through language processes. The combination of exposure sessions and three core processes in ACT: values identification, acceptance, and commitment for action should result in faster and more complete reductions in avoidance responses. This combination of exposure and ACT processes was implemented with a 9-year old who presented with a severe dog phobia. Prior to beginning each session, values were assessed and a commitment to action was made to establish rule-governed behavior for his interactions with the dog. In addition, mindfulness exercises were employed as necessary to maintain presence in the moment during sessions. The intervention took place in the home setting, and utilized a multiple baseline across dog sizes-design. Data was collected through the Behavioral Avoidance Test (BAT) probes as well as session data on proximity to the dog and duration of engagement. Results indicate a decreased proximity to dogs, and an increased duration of time spent with dogs over the course of the treatment.



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