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Mindfulness and Acceptance-Based Behavioral Therapies for Anxiety Disorders

Abstract

This article presents a brief conceptual overview of acceptance-based behavioral therapies (ABBTs) for anxiety disorders, followed by a review and summary of the recent efficacy studies of ABBTs for anxiety and comorbid disorders. We discuss clinical implications, including the importance of targeting reactivity and experiential avoidance in interventions for anxiety disorders through the use of mindfulness and other acceptance-based strategies, as well the encouragement of engagement in meaningful activities or valued action. We also address future directions for research, such as expanding research to include more randomized control trials comparing ABBTs for specific anxiety disorders to other active treatments, examining mechanisms of change, exploring adaptations in different care-delivery contexts, as well as determining the applicability of these approaches to clients from marginalized or non-dominant statuses.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In this article, we use the DSM-IV categorization of anxiety disorders, which includes posttraumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, as the available literature uses this categorization.

  2. 2.

    Aspects of acceptance have been included in previous models of CBT as well. For instance in exposure-based treatments for anxiety disorders experiencing anxious symptoms is an active component of treatment, clearly promoting acceptance and reducing experiential avoidance and reactivity.

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Conflict of Interest

Lizabeth Roemer has received grants from National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH); payment for lectures from NJ Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists, Williams College, Harvard School of Education, and Dorchester House; and royalties from Guilford and Springer.

Sarah K. Williston declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Elizabeth H. Eustis declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Susan M. Orsillo has received grants from NIMH, payment for lectures from NJ Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists, and royalties from Guilford and Springer.

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This article does not contain any unpublished studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Correspondence to Lizabeth Roemer.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Anxiety Disorders

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Roemer, L., Williston, S.K., Eustis, E.H. et al. Mindfulness and Acceptance-Based Behavioral Therapies for Anxiety Disorders. Curr Psychiatry Rep 15, 410 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-013-0410-3

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Acceptance
  • Experiential avoidance
  • Decentering
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction
  • Acceptance-based behavioral therapies
  • Treatment review
  • Psychological treatments
  • Psychosocial treatments
  • Psychiatry