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Graduate Student Publications

We are proud to display the great work our students are doing by contributing to meaningful science. Orla Moran is earning her PhD in Psychology at University College, Dublin in Dublin, Ireland and recently published this meaningful paper examining the contributions of self-as- distinction and self-as-hierarchy on relevant mental health variables. Clarissa Ong is a graduate student in the combined Clinical/Counseling PhD program at Utah State University. She has recently published a study utilizing ACT vs. waitlist control to treat clinical perfectionism. All of our students work extremely hard to publish, present, and disseminate their research and we are pleased to feature some of their articles below:

Moran, O., & McHugh, L. (2019). Patterns of relational responding and a healthy self in older adolescents. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, doi:10.1016/j.jcbs.2019.02.002

Evidence from Contextual Behavioral Science indicates that two patterns of relating facilitate a sense of self, namely, self-as-distinction and self-as-hierarchy. Although the latter has been associated with better mental health outcomes relative to self-as-distinction, to date these types of relating have not been examined directly at a baseline level, wherein manipulation has not occurred. The present study examined the relative contribution of self-as-distinction and self-as- hierarchy on depression, stress, and anxiety in a sample of 102 young people, while controlling for deictic ability and gender. The role of psychological flexibility was also examined using mediation analysis. While self-as-hierarchy emerged as a significant predictor of lower levels of stress and depression, psychological flexibility was not found to mediate this relationship. Self- as-distinction did not emerge as a significant predictor of any outcome variable. Suggestions for future research on the basis of these findings are discussed.

Ong, C. W., Lee, E. B., Krafft, J., Terry, C. L., Barrett, T. S., Levin, M. E., & Twohig, M. P. (2019). A randomized controlled trial of acceptance and commitment therapy for clinical perfectionism. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders.

Clinical perfectionism is characterized by imposing excessively high standards on oneself and experiencing severe distress when standards are not met. It has been found to contribute to the development and maintenance of various clinical presentations including anxiety, obsessive- compulsive, and eating disorders. The present study tested the efficacy of ten weekly individual sessions of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) relative to a waitlist control on clinical perfectionism and global outcomes among 53 individuals with clinical perfectionism. ACT is a process-based therapy that targets maladaptive underlying processes (e.g., rigid adherence to unrealistic high standards) rather than symptom topography (e.g., anxiety, depression). Participants completed assessments at pretreatment, posttreatment, and one-month follow-up. Results indicated compared to the waitlist condition, the ACT condition led to greater improvements in clinical perfectionism as well as outcomes related to wellbeing, functional impairment, distress, and processes of change. Our study suggests targeting core dysfunctional processes (i.e., clinical perfectionism) rather than symptom topography with treatments like ACT is feasible and efficacious, supporting a shift from symptom-focused to process-based care. We also note potential weaknesses in our treatment protocol and study methodology that should be addressed in future research. Study limitations included a small sample size and high dropout rate (35.7%).

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