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A call for ACTion: A systematic review of empirical evidence for the use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) with LGBTQI+ individuals (Pages 78-89)

Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (JCBS)

Volume 25, July 2022, Pages 78-89


James A.Fowler, Shelley Viskovich, Lisa Buckley, Judith A.Dean


LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and additional gender, sexual and romantic minority identities) individuals often experience stress due to their minority identity. This stress is caused by experiences of discrimination, harassment, and ostracisation and has been noted as a driving force behind the commonly reported mental health problems within this community. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has potential utility as an evidence-based therapeutic framework to combat this problem as it cultivates psychological flexibility (PF), which evidence shows may help buffer minority stress. This systematic review aimed to describe how ACT has been used to help LGBTQI+ individuals improve wellbeing and PF, and how it was tailored to suit LGBTQI+ individuals’ needs. Five of the initial 1430 papers identified were included in this review. Results suggested that ACT can promote PF for LGBTQI+ individuals, consequentially leading to symptom reduction for a variety of mental health problems. ACT has also been tailored to LGBTQI+ individuals unique challenges, and participants appeared to find it a tolerable therapeutic approach. While results are promising, the small number of studies and overall methodological weaknesses limit interpretation. This paper serves as a call for action for researchers to overcome methodological challenges to expand our knowledge of ACT with this community who have been historically underserved and systematically impacted by heterosexism and cissexism. It also emphasises the importance of delivering LGBTQI+ tailored care.

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