The last two decades have seen a drastic rise in the prevalence of so-called “third-wave therapies.” These new psychological therapies build on and/or reject entrenched therapies, in particular Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy (CBT), the most common psychological therapy today. Of these “third-wave therapies,” the one that has received the most attention is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
This presentation focuses on three of the six primary “process areas” of ACT: mindfulness (open and aware contact with the present moment), defusion (treating one’s thoughts lightly and without much seriousness), and acceptance (accepting negative internal experiences as a necessary part of life). In particular, these “process areas” are compared to the philosophy of CBT, which focuses on the re-evaluation and critical analysis of “cognitive errors” and “distorted interpretations.”
The presentation also examines the variety of theoretical and practical applications of ACT (with a focus on pilot research performed by Dr. Lilian Dindo at the The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics) and uses a psychNET literature search on “ACT” and “clinical populations” to scientifically analyze the applicability and effectiveness of ACT as compared to CBT. This research has demonstrated that, while ACT is superior in measures directly related to its process areas (e.g. cognitive defusion), it is, on the whole, equivalent to CBT in effectiveness. Possible cases in which ACT might be superior are discussed.
Kyle Decker, ’14
Majors: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Psychology
Sponsor: Suzette Astley