International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 9 Num. 3 - October 2009


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) in the Treatment of Panic Disorder: Some Considerations from the Research on Basic Processes

Volume 9 Num. 3 - October 2009 - Pages 299-315


Francisco Javier Carrascoso L?pez , Sonsoles Valdivia Salas


The prevalence of panic disorder with and without agoraphobia as well as its personal and
economic impact is encouraging researchers and clinicians to improve the available psychological treatments. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for panic disorder has yielded large size effects, still
the literature on treatment outcomes (efficacy, effectiveness, and efficiency) points out some
inconclusive results which deserve further consideration. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is proving very useful in the treatment of a broad range of psychological problems,
anxiety disorders included, although the empirical evidence for the latest is limited yet. In the
present paper, we present a review of the basic research sustaining the use of ACT for anxiety
disorders in general and panic disorder in particular. First, panic disorder is conceptualized
as an instance of experiential avoidance. Then, the basic processes of change in ACT are
analyzed, emphasizing those which have been studied in relation to anxiogenic or panicogenic
events. Subsequently, the application of ACT to anxiety and panic disorder is described.
Finally, some key future research directions are offered to the light of the basic research

Key words:

panic disorder, ACT, experiential avoidance, relational frame theory, relational responding, private events

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