Treatment of Three Anxiety Cases with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in a Private Practice

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Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy




Springer Publishing Company

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Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for anxiety disorders is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that focuses on decreasing the behavior regulatory function of anxiety and related cognitions, and has a strong focus on behavior change that is consistent with client values. In this case series, 3 consecutive referrals seeking treatment for anxiety disorders at a private practice were treated with 9–13 sessions of ACT. In-session exposure therapy was not included to determine the effects of ACT without the compounding effects of already proven treatment procedures. The treatment procedure was identical across disorders to test the use of a unified treatment protocol for anxiety disorders: panic disorder with agoraphobia, comorbid social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. All participants showed clinical improvement in their specific anxiety disorders as rated on multiple standardized assessments after treatment, with gains maintained at follow-up (8 months or more). Time series assessments, taken throughout treatment, of anxiety and avoidance behaviors showed large decreases in avoidance but not in anxiety, suggesting ACT was effective by changing the way participants responded to anxiety rather than anxiety itself.

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