Long-Term Comparison of Traditional CBT and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

According to a recent study published in Behavior Therapy, traditional cognitive behavior therapy (CT) may be more effective for treating anxiety and depression in the long-term than Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). The current study is a follow up comparison of the long-term outcomes of CT and ACT. The original study measured symptoms of students seeking treatment, (n=132) age 18-52 (M=26.7) before and after receiving CT and ACT. At post treatment, both groups improved on measures of depression, anxiety, and general functioning, and the results did not yield a significant difference in effectiveness between the two samples receiving treatment.

This long-term follow up study, conducted 18 months later included a majority (n=91) of the original sample who received either CT (n=45) or ACT (n=46). Although participants in both treatment groups benefitted initially from the different therapies, participants from the CT treatment group gained significant and lasting improvement in their symptoms and functioning:

 

  • 81.8% of CT patients versus 60.7% of ACT patients remained reliably recovered on measures of depression (Beck Depression Inventory-II);
  • 72.7% of CT patients versus 56.0% ACT patients remained in the recovered range for anxiety (Beck Anxiety Inventory);
  • 46.4% of CT patients versus 22.6% ACT patients maintained improvements in interpersonal and occupational functioning (Outcome Questionnaire); and
  • 37.8% of CT patients versus 22.9% of ACT patients remained in the normative range on measures of quality of life (Quality of Life Inventory).

This is the first known comparison of the long-term efficiency of CT versus ACT. While research and replication studies are necessary, these preliminary findings suggest that traditional CT has long-term advantages over ACT in treating depression and anxiety, and in increasing general functioning and overall quality of life.

Forman, E.M., Shaw, J.A., Goetter E.M., Herbert, J.D., Park, J.A., & Yuen, E.K, (2012). Long-term follow-up of a randomized controlled trial comparing acceptance and commitment therapy and standard cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety and depression. Behavior     Therapy, 43(4) 801-811

1 reply
  1. Janice Daemen
    Janice Daemen says:

    Dear reader,
    Does anybody know if there is research about whether it is efficient to treat an individual with CBT after ACT? I think both treatments have a different kind of theory. In clinical practice I experience that both forms of therapies are used in a combined way, but I personally can imagine that it is not effective.
    If you know some research that examines this, then I would love to read it.
    Thanks in advance.
    J. Daemen

    Reply

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