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.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Symposium #461
Human Objectification, Part II: Applying ACT for Stigma
Monday, May 26, 2008
3:30 PM–4:50 PM
Boulevard C
Area: CBM/CSE; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Lindsay B. Fletcher (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Human objectification, or stigma, is a universal process that occurs when we categorize people based on a particular attribute, whether it is weight, a personality disorder, or a substance abuse problem. The results of acting on stigmatizing thoughts range from abusing oneself to large-scale acts of violence. Stigma can be addressed at the level of the individual, when a person buys into the label that has been placed on them, or at the interpersonal level, for example, when staff are faced with their own stigmatizing thoughts towards clients. This symposium will begin with a review of published studies on how ACT has been applied for stigma, and will then discuss three recent studies that examined how ACT can impact stigma in different populations.
Review of the Research on ACT and Stigma.
LINDSAY B. FLETCHER (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Stigma and prejudice are usually considered to be outside the scope of psychological science. However, the process of stigma begins with the individual and can be understood using ACT theory. Furthermore, healthy individuals may begin with healthier communities. With this in mind, ACT has been used successfully to target stigma. This talk will review the completed research in this area, including studies targeting stigma towards people with mental illness and racial prejudice among undergraduates.
Examining the Relationship between Obesity-Related Stigma, Quality of Life, Psychological Distress, and Avoidant Coping.
JASON LILLIS (VA Palo Alto Healthcare System), Steven C. Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Obesity-related stigma is both pervasive and debilitating. This study presents selected results from a medium-sized (n = 84), randomized controlled trial for the treatment of obesity-related stigma and weight control. A measure of obesity-related stigma will be introduced and evaluated. Exploratory analyses showing a relationship between stigma, quality of life, and psychological distress will be presented and discussed. Changes in all three variables were mediated by decreases in avoidant coping. A conceptual discussion of the relationships of these constructs will conclude this talk.
An RCT Comparison of ACT and Psycho-educational Training for Staff Working with Personality Disordered Clients.
SUSAN ELIZABETH CLARKE (Dorset HealthCare NHS Foundation Trust, Bournemouth University), Georgina Fradgley (University of Southampton), Bob Remington (University of Southampton)
Abstract: People with personality disorder (PD) often engage in various forms of addictive behaviour and self-harm, including suicide. Front-line staff working with such challenges frequently have little specialised psychological knowledge and are consequently unable to understand their clients’ problems or build effective relationships. PD clients in turn report being stigmatised by staff as manipulative and attention seeking. We describe a randomised control comparison of two training packages designed to help such staff develop a more informed and empathic understanding of clients’ difficulties and manage their own stigmatising judgements. Participants were randomly allocated to either Acceptance and Commitment Training or Psycho-educational Training, which drew heavily on the understandings and principles of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Participants (N=99) completed a series of assessments before and after training, and at 3-month follow up. Preliminary results show positive changes in attitude, believability of stigmatizing thoughts, social distancing and helping alliance in both groups. These data provide support for the effectiveness of ACT, compared to a more established and conventional training for front-line staff working with PD clients. follow up data are currently being collected and will be available for the conference.
ACT for Self-Stigma with Substance Use Disorder.
BARBARA S. KOHLENBERG (University of Nevada School of Medicine), Jason Brian Luoma (University of Nevada, Reno), Lindsay B. Fletcher (University of Nevada, Reno), Steven C. Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Individuals with substance use problems often bear the multiple burdens of the deleterious effects of their substance abuse both enacted and self-stigma. In this paper, we will discuss NIH funded research focused on developing an ACT treatment protocol for self-stigma in people with substance use disorder. We will describe both the treatment itself, and will review outcome data demonstrating the impact of ACT focused on stigma in this population.



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