Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
Michael E. Levin
College counseling centers (CCCs) have experienced funding and staffing setbacks in recent years, resulting in higher caseloads, counselor burnout, and bloated waitlists. Mobile Health (mHealth) interventions may offer a cost-effective and innovative solution. The authors developed ACT Daily, a prototype mHealth app based in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). This study examined the feasibility and possible efficacy of ACT Daily as a brief intervention for individuals placed on CCC waitlists.
A sample of 11 depressed/anxious clients waitlisted at a local CCC enrolled in the study, which followed a pre-post, open trial design. Participants received a brief online training that covered the basics of ACT and introduced the app’s functions and features. For the following 2 weeks, participants were asked to use ACT Daily every day. Results displayed high acceptability, usability, and satisfaction ratings across users. Significant improvements were observed on most ACT process measures, including overall psychological inflexibility. Findings from app usage and self-report measures supported ACT Daily’s ability to promote skill use in the moment. Analyses of in-app data indicated that ACT Daily’s skills were potentially effective in the moment and increased in strength over time. Furthermore, ACT Daily appeared to serve as a helpful pre-therapy tool due to significant reductions in depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as improvements in emotional self-awareness. Finally, the online training appeared to equip users with a sufficient comprehension of core ACT components and app training.
While this pilot study suffered from a low sample size, this pattern of results encourages the application and dissemination of ACT mHealth apps as an added support for waitlisted CCC clients suffering from depression or anxiety. Moreover, it appears that ACT Daily may have enabled users to acquire, strengthen, and potentially generalize useful ACT skills. It is theorized that the app facilitated in-the-moment learning of skills that could then be applied directly to real-world contexts. Future research is advised to target larger, more diverse samples, implement a randomized controlled trial design, add objective behavioral and physiological measures, incorporate all six ACT processes, and integrate client feedback into future iterations of ACT Daily.
Haeger, Jack A., "Utilizing ACT Daily as a Self-Guided Mobile App Intervention for Depression and Anxiety in a College Counseling Center" (2016). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 5217.
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