New Study Compares Acceptance and Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety

Anxiety conditions range from mild to severe. They include generalized anxiety (GAD), phobia, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive behavior (OCD), and posttraumatic stress (PTSD). One of the most widely accepted methods of treatment for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). However, many individuals who have anxiety do not respond well to this form of treatment. Some people are unable to make the cognitive changes necessary to achieve a positive outcome, while others cannot commit to the therapy and therefore never realize the benefits of treatment. Experts have explored other avenues of treatment for these individuals and have found that acceptance commitment therapy (ACT) is an effective alternative.

ACT is a mindfulness-based approach that encourages clients to accept their anxious feelings nonjudgmentally and to focus on the present moment and their physiological reactions while experiencing anxiety. ACT does not promote change in the beliefs about the anxious feeling, merely acceptance. CBT, on the other hand, teaches clients how to change the thoughts they associate with anxious feelings in order to elicit a different and more adaptive response. Some research has compared these two approaches, but no study has looked at specific measures of improvement in a clinical sample of anxious individuals. To address this gap, Joanna J. Arch of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado recently examined several dimensions of outcome in participants being treated with CBT versus participants being treated with ACT.

For her study, Arch assessed 128 individuals after they completed an exposure therapy combined with either ACT or CBT. She evaluated their levels of clinical severity, quality of life, mood problems, and overall symptom severity at treatment conclusion and again 6 and 12 months posttreatment. Arch discovered that both ACT and CBT resulted in significant symptom reduction but in different ways. CBT provided a higher quality of life rating than ACT, whereas ACT resulted in lower clinical severity ratings at conclusion and follow-up. Arch concluded, “Overall, our findings suggest that ACT is a highly viable treatment alternative to CBT, the current gold-standard psychosocial treatment for anxiety disorders.”

Reference:
Arch, J. J., Eifert, G. H., Davies, C., Vilardaga, J. C. P., Rose, R. D., Craske, M. G. (2012). Randomized clinical trial of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) versus acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for mixed anxiety disorders. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0028310

© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • 4 comments
  • Leave a Comment
  • Mbenitarlon

    June 22nd, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    While I am more of an advocate for CBT in that it helps you to change the way that you cognitively process those anxieties and fears, I do realize that one of the bigger drawbacks to this is that most people who need it are not willing to make the necessary commitment to the treatment that they need to make in order to fully see the changes that they could then discover in their own lives. As a result of that I think that ACT could help those who are a little more inclined to go for the change on their own time and in their own way. I know that they will still need some guidance and ACT still offers this to them but without the feeling of such a commitment that is needed for CBT to be the most beneficial. I think that just giving them something to work on and focus on could be good for many people who fight against anxiety and could be just enough of a tweak to give them a real sense that this does not have to always overtake them.

  • Reese

    June 23rd, 2012 at 6:09 AM

    I have no experience with this at all.
    Is there this feeling among those who have anxious feelings that this is somehow not accepted, that makes them feel less than others?
    That’s so odd to me that they would feel this sort of judgement and yet I know I have never thought less of someone just because this might be something that they deal with.
    It’s a part of who they are, and I kind of like this concept that ACT doesn’t encourage them to necessarily change, but to kind fo embrace the feelings and just come to learn how to live with those feelings of anxiety in a way that does not give them so much power.

  • billy r

    June 24th, 2012 at 4:27 AM

    Not too sure that Acceptance therapy will be able to gain its legs because I think that most people looking for treatment wat more than making peace with their symptoms; they wish to not have them at all!

  • AW

    June 25th, 2012 at 12:39 AM

    Different individuals react differently and their definition of the perfect therapy may differ too.really helps to have alternatives to accommodate this variance in people.beneficial to all.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of GoodTherapy.org's Terms and Conditions of Use.

2 Z k A

 

 

* Indicates required field

Therapist   Treatment Center

Advanced Search

Search Our Blog

Title   Content   Author

Recent Comments

  • Janice: I guess if something huge happened outside of work I would probably let them know but other than that, no.
  • arthur: I’m embarrassed to even admit this but once early in my marriage I cheated on my wife. I never planned for it to happen but it did...
  • Charlotte: U don’t need the people who tear u down that’s for sure!
  • Patsy u: Not sure what it is when things like this happen but for most of us they will either make you or break you. Choosing how you let them...
  • Carrington: I would have to try to look at things from their perspective, something that should be easier to do as an adult than it is for somebody...
GoodTherapy.org is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on GoodTherapy.org.