Pilot of an acceptance and commitment therapy and schema group intervention for mental health carer's interpersonal problems

Elly Quinlan, Frank P. Deane, & Trevor Crowe

Mental health carers often have relationship difficulties with the person for whom they are caring and experience high rates of interpersonal problems compared to the general population. This study piloted a manualised 12-week group ACT and Schema intervention for mental health carers’ interpersonal problems, examining acceptability and preliminary effectiveness. This study had a mixed-methods design, with assessment booklets administer red at weeks 1, 6 and 12 of the program and focus groups conducted three months post. Participants comprised 24 mental health carers across five groups. Results indicated high attendance rates and positive perceptions of the intervention. Repeated measures ANOVAs revealed significant improvements in interpersonal problems, experiential avoidance, caregiving avoidance, mindfulness and wellbeing over time. Qualitative results highlighted themes of group process, reactivity, changes in emotion, acceptance of caregiving, communication, agency and connection. In conclusion, ACT and Schema group interventions show promise for mental health carers’ interpersonal problems, however, larger controlled trials are required.

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