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The relationship between measures of acceptance and panic symptoms in the context of a cognitive behavioral group intervention

1 January 2015


[From the introduction]

The treatment for anxiety disorders is arguably one of the most established and effective forms of intervention in the field of psychology. Specifically, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been the first line treatment for most clinicians working with a wide variety of anxiety problems. This is appropriate considering that research over the last two decades has consistently shown CBT to be effective in treating anxiety disorders for the majority of individuals when evaluated compared to treatment as usual (Schmidt & Keough, 2010, Olatunji, Cisler, & Deacon, 2010). Panic Disorder (PD) is no stranger to scientific scrutiny and traditionally behavior-based exposure treatment has been accepted as the “gold standard” when working with people presenting with panic symptoms. Researchers have examined the efficacy of CBT for PD in many randomized control studies; however, within this body of literature, there is still room for improvement through the study of empirically supported principles of change. This research not only facilitates interventions utilizing their effective components maximally, but also allows for creative adaptations that intensify specific aspects of treatment most associated with change. One method to achieve this goal is to consider already established treatments (i.e. CBT) compared and contrasted with other empirically-based treatments. Despite established treatments, there is still room for improvement in treating PD.


Included in the ever-growing body of literature, “Third Wave” behavior therapies (Hayes, Luoma, Bond, Masuda, & Lillis, 2006) like Mindfulness-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MBCT), Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) have gained in popularity and added new conceptualizations to old problems. These new treatment modalities are built on behavioral principles similarly to CBT, but allow new ways of conceptualizing and comparing mechanisms of change. First, I discuss the etiology and maintenance of PD through a CBT lens to illuminate the problem from this perspective; second, I speak to the Third Wave behavior therapies and their impact on the treatment of PD to introduce a second perspective; and third, I discuss similarities between the two and what New Wave treatments add to the mixture.


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