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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety and OCD Spectrum Disorders – An Empirical Review

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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety and OCD Spectrum Disorders – An Empirical Review

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is one of the newest “third wave” psychotherapies that emphasizes acceptance and mindfulness strategies in addition to first-order change strategies. While there is still debate about their exact effectiveness, ACT has been proven effective for treating various conditions including OCD.

ACT is founded on relational frame theory and works by altering patients’ relationship with their thoughts, feelings, memories, and physical sensations. It teaches patients to reduce avoidance and attachment to cognitions while increasing focus in the present moment. Furthermore, ACT helps individuals clarify their values and commit to behavioral change.

Research on ACT for treating OCD has been supported by theoretical, experimental, and intervention studies. ACT is known to reduce experiential avoidance (EA) and psychological flexibility in OCD patients by decreasing their desire to escape or control obsessions. The purpose of ACT therapy is to teach OCD patients that they can create a new relationship with obsessions and anxious emotions by focusing on core values rather than trying to reduce their frequency or intensity.

Treatment with ACT has been demonstrated to produce clinically significant improvements in OCD symptoms as measured by standardized anxiety and compulsions scores, with these improvements lasting even at follow-up. When compared with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), ACT proved more successful at producing reductions in OCD severity as well as positive changes to psychological flexibility.

This paper conducts a systematic review of all published empirical research on the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy (ACT) for treating anxiety and OCD spectrum disorders. It specifically examines evidence for its use in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), trichotillomania, and social phobia.

OCD is one of the world’s most severe and chronic anxiety disorders, affecting approximately 2-3% of population worldwide. Despite numerous treatments available for it, many suffer from its debilitating symptoms. Therefore, researchers are striving to develop psychotherapeutic interventions in order to enhance quality of life for those affected by OCD.

CBT and ACT are two of the most well-known therapies in this field, yet their differences remain unknown. Regardless of these assumptions, both therapies have been found to be successful at treating anxiety and OCD spectrum disorders.

ACT has been considered one of the most promising therapies due to its capacity to alter psychological processes that differ from CBT, leading to clinical improvements for those suffering from these disorders. Studies have demonstrated the efficacy of ACT treatment for such conditions, with many more currently underway.

ACT has proven to be an effective treatment for OCD when combined with pharmacotherapy. Studies have even demonstrated that it may be more successful than just medication in relieving symptoms of OCD than those taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This article provides an overview of ACT, its philosophy, basic research findings and treatment components; additionally it describes how to incorporate ACT with exposure and response prevention – a proven effective approach in treating OCD.

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