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Disrupting Verbal Processes: Cognitive Defusion in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Other Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapies

Abstract

Applied behavioral psychology pivots on the formation and alteration of stimulus function: on how stimuli come to differentially affect behavior and how these effects can be altered when they prove problematic. Relational frame theory (RFT) offers an account of how uniquely verbal processes transform stimulus functions. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) was designed to counteract problematic verbal transformations of function, in part through the use of cognitive defusion techniques. But the construct of cognitive defusion remains incompletely understood. The current article comprises an attempt to explore parameters around the ways in which cognitive defusion are viewed and operationalized within ACT and RFT. A comprehensive RFT-based conceptualization of defusion is offered, and hypotheses about the nature of defusion and its effects are discussed, with the intent of spurring more focused empirical exploration on the characteristics and effects of defusion inside ACT and in a variety of mindfulnessbased psychotherapeutic treatments.

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Correspondence to John T. Blackledge.

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Blackledge, J.T. Disrupting Verbal Processes: Cognitive Defusion in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Other Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapies. Psychol Rec 57, 555–576 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03395595

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