Behavior Analysis in Practice

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 241–253 | Cite as

A Randomized Control Trial to Evaluate the Use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to Increase Academic Performance and Psychological Flexibility in Graduate Students

  • Dana Paliliunas
  • Jordan Belisle
  • Mark R. DixonEmail author
Special Section: Education of Behavior Analysts


Graduate students experience high levels of demand in their degree programs, which often results in difficulty maintaining their academic performance and managing their distress. The present study examined the effectiveness of a 6-week values clarification and committed action training program derived from acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to increase academic performance and psychological flexibility of graduate students in a behavior analysis and therapy program by comparing a Values intervention group to a Study Tips active treatment control group on measures of academic performance, psychological flexibility, values-driven behavior, and stress. The results suggest that the Values group demonstrated statistically significant improvements in academic performance (t (32) = 1.902, p < 0.05), psychological flexibility (t (32) = 1.895, p < .05), and ratings of the importance of education-related values (t (32) = 2.013, p < .05) compared to the control group, and nonsignificant improvements in reports of consistency with education-related values (t (32) = 0.7204, p > .05) and perceived stress (t (32) = 1.521, p > .05). The Values group also demonstrated a higher score for social validity than the control group following the intervention (t (32) = 2.449, p < .05).


Values clarification Randomized controlled trial Graduate students Psychological flexibility 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study which involved human participants was in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained for participation in this research.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dana Paliliunas
    • 1
  • Jordan Belisle
    • 1
  • Mark R. Dixon
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Rehabilitation InstituteSouthern Illinois UniversityCarbondaleUSA

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