[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Psychosocial consequences of relational aggression have garnered significant attention. Although most adolescents are targets of relational aggression at some point, only a sub-group experience significant psychological distress and impaired functioning, with research linking experiential avoidance to negative outcomes. The present study sought to develop and pilot a school-based risk-reduction program informed by acceptance-based behavioral theory aimed to reduce experiential avoidance and increase acceptance- and action-based coping to reduce psychosocial distress. Eight 7th grade classrooms comprising of 210 participants with a mean age of 12.45, were group-randomized to either immediate or waitlist condition. Multiple regressions conducted on baseline and three-month follow-up measures of peer victimization, peer aggression, experiential avoidance, psychopathology, and coping style. Baseline experiential avoidance was significantly associated both the extent to which a student engaged in, and was the victim of, both relational and physical aggression. The program group engaged in more problem-solving coping compared to the waitlist group at follow-up. Change in experiential avoidance predicted negative outcomes at follow-up across domains regardless of group assignment. Implications and recommendations for future studies are discussed.
Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science 04/2014; 3(2). DOI:10.1016/j.jcbs.2014.03.001
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Research suggests mindfulness-based treatments may enhance efficacy of CBT for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). One hypothesized mechanism of mindfulness is cognitive flexibility; however, research findings to date are mixed as to a) whether cognitive inflexibility represents a characteristic of GAD, and b) whether mindfulness impacts cognitive flexibility. It is proposed that limitations in study methodology may partially account for these mixed findings. The present study investigated cognitive flexibility as a potential mechanism of mindfulness in a sample with elevated GAD symptoms using a modified emotional Stroop switching task while attempting to control for limitations of previous research. The purpose of the study was: 1) to explore cognitive inflexibility as a potential characteristic of GAD, and 2) to examine whether a brief mindfulness induction has measurable impact on cognitive flexibility.
A total of 66 participants (53 with elevated GAD symptoms, and 13 non-anxious) were randomized to a mindful-breathing, music-assisted relaxation, or thought wandering condition prior to completing an emotional Stroop and emotional Stroop switching task.
Results suggest that GAD may be characterized by an inflexible style of responding, and exposure to mindfulness and relaxation result in partial improvements in cognitive flexibility.
Limitations of this study include small sample size, brief induction period, and use of an analog sample.
The present findings suggest that mindfulness may be associated with partial improvement in cognitive flexibility.
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 11/2013; 45(1):208-216. DOI:10.1016/j.jbtep.2013.10.008 · 2.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The associations between brain matter volume in the cerebral cortex and set shifting and attentional control as operationalized by the Wisconsin Card Sort Test (WCST) and Condition Three of the Delis-Kaplan version of the Color Word Interference Test (CWIT) were investigated in 15 healthy controls and 16 heterogeneously diagnosed psychiatric patients with self-control problems using voxel based morphometry. Both groups underwent standardized magnetic resonance imaging and neuropsychological assessment. WCST and CWIT variables, and a composite, were regressed across the whole brain. Although CWIT performance levels were the same in both groups, neuroanatomic correlates for the psychiatric participants invoked the left hemisphere language system, but the bilateral dorsal attention system in the healthy controls. On its own, no neuroanatomic correlates were observed for the WCST. But when part of a composite with CWIT, neuroanatomic correlates in the dorsal attention system emerged for the psychiatric participants. Psychometric combinations of manifest executive task variables may best represent higher level latent neuro-cognitive control systems. Factor analytic studies of neuropsychological test performances suggest the constructs being measured are the same across psychiatric and non-diagnosed participants, however, imaging modalities indicate the relevant neural architecture can vary by group.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A growing body of research suggests that mindfulness- and acceptance-based principles can increase efforts aimed at reducing human suffering and increasing quality of life. A critical step in the development and evaluation of these new approaches to treatment is to determine the acceptability and efficacy of these treatments for clients from nondominant cultural and/or marginalized backgrounds. This special series brings together the wisdom of clinicians and researchers who are currently engaged in clinical practice and treatment research with populations who are historically underrepresented in the treatment literature. As an introduction to the series, this paper presents a theoretical background and research context for the papers in the series, highlights the elements of mindfulness- and acceptance-based treatments that may be congruent with culturally responsive treatment, and briefly outlines the general principles of cultural competence and responsive treatment. Additionally, the results of a meta-analysis of mindfulness- and acceptance-based treatments with clients from nondominant cultural and/or marginalized backgrounds are presented. Our search yielded 32 studies totaling 2,198 clients. Results suggest small (Hedges' g = .38, 95% CI = .11 – .64) to large (Hedges' g = 1.32, 95% CI = .61 – 2.02) effect sizes for mindfulness- and acceptance-based treatments, which varied by study design.
Cognitive and Behavioral Practice 02/2013; 20(1):1–12. DOI:10.1016/j.cbpra.2011.12.004 · 1.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Applied Relaxation (AR), which involves noticing early signs of anxiety and responding with a relaxation response, is an empirically supported treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). However, research on hypothesized mechanisms of AR (e.g., reduced muscle tension) has been mixed, making it likely that additional mechanisms are contributing to the efficacy of AR. Stemming from more recent conceptualizations of GAD, it is hypothesized that mindfulness, decentering, and acceptance may be potential mechanisms of change in AR. Outcome, mechanism data, and case descriptions from three individuals diagnosed with GAD who received 16 weeks of AR as part of a larger randomized controlled trial are presented to demonstrate the ways that AR may lead to clinical improvement through mindfulness, decentering, and acceptance.
Cognitive and Behavioral Practice 08/2012; 19(3):451-462. DOI:10.1016/j.cbpra.2011.12.005 · 1.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Women with a history of childhood sexual assault (CSA) are more likely to be revictimized; however, most existing programs aimed at reducing sexual victimization do not expressly address the issue of revictimization. The present study examined the efficacy of a brief mindfulness-based program in reducing rates of sexual assault and revictimization in college women over the course of an academic semester. Although the results were not statistically significant, a large-magnitude effect was noted, whereby women with a history of CSA who participated in the program were less likely to be sexually assaulted and raped at 2-month follow-up.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Theory and research suggest that generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is associated with diminished quality of life and restriction in valued action. The purpose of this study was to examine the relevance of values-consistent behavior (valued action) in understanding the impairment in quality of life in GAD.
Treatment-seeking clients with a principal diagnosis of GAD (n = 30) were compared with demographically matched nonanxious controls (n = 30) using self-report measures.
Participants with GAD reported significantly less valued action compared with controls, and within the GAD group, diminished valued action was not fully explained by depression comorbidity. Valued action was significantly correlated with measures of experiential avoidance, distress about emotions, and quality of life. Further, consistent with a theoretical model of GAD, restrictions in valued action contributed unique variance to diminished quality of life over and above the contributions of gender, GAD severity, experiential avoidance, distress about emotions, and depression comorbidity. Finally, an acceptance-based behavioral therapy significantly improved self-reports of valued action for GAD clients with 40% achieving clinically significant change in this domain.
The findings provide preliminary support for the relevance of valued action in understanding the functional impairment associated with GAD, and the beneficial effects of an acceptance-based behavior therapy in increasing valued action.
Depression and Anxiety 05/2011; 28(5):358-66. DOI:10.1002/da.20793 · 4.41 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Theory and research suggest that treatments targeting experiential avoidance may enhance outcomes for patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The present study examined the role of experiential avoidance and distress about emotions in a treatment-seeking sample with a principal diagnosis of GAD compared with demographically matched nonanxious controls and sought to explore their shared relationship with two putative psychopathological processes in GAD: intolerance of uncertainty and worry. Patients with GAD reported significantly higher levels of experiential avoidance and distress about emotions compared with nonclinical controls while controlling for depressive symptoms, and measures of these constructs significantly predicted GAD status. Additionally, experiential avoidance and distress about anxious, positive, and angry emotions shared unique variance with intolerance of uncertainty when negative affect was partialed out, whereas only experiential avoidance and distress about anxious emotions shared unique variance with worry. Discussion focuses on implications for treatment as well as future directions for research.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Diminished levels of mindfulness (awareness and acceptance/nonjudgment) and difficulties in emotion regulation have both been proposed to play a role in symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD); the current studies investigated these relationships in nonclinical and clinical samples. In the first study, among a sample of 395 individuals at an urban commuter campus, self-reports of both emotion regulation difficulties and aspects of mindfulness accounted for unique variance in GAD symptom severity, above and beyond variance shared with depressive and anxious symptoms, as well as variance shared with one another. In the second study, individuals with GAD (n=16) reported significantly lower levels of mindfulness and significantly higher levels of difficulties in emotion regulation than individuals in a nonanxious control group (n=16). Results are discussed in terms of directions for future research and potential implications for treatment development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The psychological impact of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) has been well documented: a meta- analytic review of the literature revealed a significant relationship between abuse and a wide variety of symptoms including anxiety, anger, depression, self-mutilation, sexual problems, substance misuse, suicidality, impairment of self-concept, interpersonal problems, obsessions and compulsions, dissociation, post-traumatic stress responses, and somatization (Neumann, Houskamp, Pollock, & Briere, 1996). There has been particular interest in the factors that mediate the relationship between CSA history and psychological distress. Polusney and Follette (1995), drawing on a more general model of psychopathology developed by Hayes and colleagues (1996), suggest that many of the common problematic behaviors and symptoms related to CSA are driven by experiential avoidance. Experiential avoidance, as it relates to CSA, is defined by Polusney and Follette (1995) as the "unwillingness to experience unpleasant internal events such as thoughts, memories, and affective states associated with an abuse history, and subsequent attempts to reduce, numb, or alleviate these negatively self-evaluated internal experiences" (p. 158).