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 #232
Illuminating the Cross-Cultural Context: Integrating Acceptance and Committment Therapy and Minorities
Sunday, May 29, 2005
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
Astoria (3rd floor)
Area: TPC; Domain: Theory
Chair: Leslie Rogers (University of Mississippi)
Discussant: Amy Murrell (University of Mississippi)
Abstract: Research has shown that clinicians often misperceive the presenting problems of clients from differing cultural backgrounds. More specifically clinicians who are unaware of a client’s cultural context may be more likely to overpathologize. This inaccurate interpretation may result from a host of difficulties the clinician may face when working with a client from a different culture. The purpose of this symposium is to highlight variables of interest in the cross-cultural therapeutic context.
Acculturation Issues in Behavioral Assessment and Treatment
CHRISTINA TUCKER (University of Mississippi), Laura Johnson (University of Mississippi)
Abstract: Consideration of acculturation issues is essential to the provision of culturally competent services with diverse populations. Acculturation refers to changes in values, beliefs, and behaviors that occur as a result of sustained contact with a second culture. Refugees, immigrants, ethnic and cultural minorities, and sojourners represent groups that undergo the process of acculturation within the context of American society. While each group faces its own unique stressors associated with acculturation, a basic understanding of the process and its potential outcomes can inform practitioners in their assessment and treatment planning with individuals from diverse backgrounds. Acculturative stress, for example, refers to mildly pathological and disruptive behaviors and experiences that are generated during acculturation. Common symptoms and features include anxiety, psychosomatic complaints, anger, identity confusion, perceived discrimination, substance abuse and family conflict. While the psychological impact of acculturation is significant, the degree of difficulty will vary considerably based on several moderating factors. Different acculturation strategies, for example, or patterns of responding to the demands of acculturation, are thought to be differentially adaptive. This paper will discuss the process and outcomes of acculturation, acculturative stress, and factors that modify its psychological and behavioral impact. In particular, a bicultural acculturation strategy will highlighted as promoting optimum psychological functioning through psychological flexibility and the development of a wide behavioral repertoire. Strategies for addressing acculturation issues in assessment and treatment will be discussed.
Challenges in Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) with Non-European-American Cultures in the United States
MARY POLITI (George Washington University)
Abstract: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that emphasizes acceptance of thoughts and emotions, contact with the present moment, values exploration, and commitment to act in accord with one’s values (Hayes, Strosahl & Wilson, 1999). There are numerous studies demonstrating the efficacy of ACT in treating anxiety (i.e. Zettle, 2003), depression (i.e. Zettle & Hayes, 1986), chronic pain (i.e. Hayes et al., 1999) and other psychological disorders in individuals in the United States (U.S.). Additionally, some studies have shown that ACT can be beneficial for treating psychological distress in individuals residing in countries such as Sweden (Dahl, Wilson, & Lussen, in press), Spain (Garcia & Perez, 2001), India and South Africa (Lundgren, 2004). Although the therapy appears efficacious in treating individuals across cultures worldwide, few of the studies conducted in the United States (U.S.) have included minority cultural groups in their samples. This paper will explore the therapeutic challenges in conducting ACT with non-European-Americans in the U.S.
ACT and the Cross-Cultural Context in Therapy: Developing Interventions
AMY MURRELL (University of Mississippi), Leslie Rogers (University of Mississippi)
Abstract: To date there have been a number of clinical studies conducted in a wide variety of cultural contexts; ACT has shown promising results in Sweden, Australia, South Africa, UK, Spain as well as the United States. Although these studies have been successful they mainly consist of clinicians and clients who come from the same cultural context. Little research has been conducted utilizing ACT with immigrants in the United States whose cultural context differs from that of their therapist. Hence, the danger of overpathologizing may occur. The present paper is illustrative some of these special issues and concerns and how they were addressed during treatment.



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