Date of Award:

8-2021

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Psychology

Committee Chair(s)

Michael P. Twohig

Committee

Michael P. Twohig

Committee

Michael E. Levin

Committee

Tyler L. Renshaw

Abstract

Mental health problems, particularly anxiety, are a growing problem in adolescents. Some treatments (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy) have been shown effective for youth anxiety, but do not help all adolescents. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), a treatment supported for anxiety in adults, has yet to be fully researched in adolescents. ACT is a flexible therapy that is understood to be appropriate, if not ideal, for younger populations and schools. The present study compares a school-based, group ACT for adolescents with anxiety to a waitlist.

Adolescents (N = 26) with anxiety were randomized to a 12 week waitlist or to participate in a school-based, group ACT for anxiety. The groups took place during the school day, ranging from .5-1 hours for 1-2 times a week, depending on the school. Over the course of the study, the adolescents completed four surveys of anxiety, other mental health variables, and class absences.

Adolescents in the ACT groups reported less anxiety and fewer class absences after receiving treatment as compared to the waitlist group. No differences were found for other mental health variables. Participants reported that the ACT groups were acceptable and enjoyable. These findings demonstrate that ACT groups may be beneficial to integrate within school settings. They also support the use of ACT with younger populations with anxiety more broadly.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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