The Psychological Record

, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 197–215 | Cite as

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Act) vs. Systematic Desensitization in Treatment of Mathematics Anxiety

  • Robert D. ZettleEmail author


College students (N = 24) experiencing math anxiety were treated individually for 6 weeks with either acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) or systematic desensitization. Statistical analyses indicated significant, but equivalent, reductions in self-report measures of math and test anxiety that were maintained at 2-month follow-up. Both statistically and clinically significant decrements in trait anxiety were limited to participants treated with systematic desensitization. No improvement in mathematical skills was noted for either treatment. As expected, pretreatment levels of experiential avoidance were more strongly related to therapeutic change among participants receiving ACT, suggesting that the two interventions, although generally comparable in reducing math anxiety, may do so through different processes. Implications of the findings for further research on ACT more generally and treatment of math anxiety, in particular, are discussed.


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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWichita State UniversityWichitaUSA

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