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Earliest ACT Protocols (aka "Comprehensive Distancing")

This page contains where are arguable the first two ACT protocols written while Dr. Hayes was at the University of North Carolina - Greensboro in 1981, and the earliest program written after Hayes moved to the University of Nevada, Reno in 1986 ... a protocol in 1987 by Sue Melancon (now Sue Melancon McCurry) for her predoctoral project with agoraphobia, submitted to the clinical psychology program at UNR in November 1988. All were described at the time as "Comprehensive Distancing" protocols but a detailed review finds references to the major components of nominally "ACT" protocols.

The first protocol is an unpublished five-page manual and is referred in Robert Zettle's 1984 dissertation as "Hayes, 1981". It is called "The Big D" after the lab's slang name for "comprehensive distancing."

The second is a manual for a study on comprehensive distancing for pain tolerance conducted in 1981/1982 and presented in this paper: 

Hayes, S. C., Korn, Z., Zettle, R. D., Rosenfarb, I., & Cooper, L. (November 1982). Rule‑governed behavior and cognitive behavior therapy: The effects of comprehensive cognitive distancing on pain tolerance. Paper presented at the meeting of the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy, Los Angeles. 

That study appeared in print in 17 years laer: 

Hayes, S. C., Bissett, R., Korn, Z., Zettle, R. D., Rosenfarb, I., Cooper, L., & Grundt, A. (1999). The impact of acceptance versus control rationales on pain tolerance. The Psychological Record, 49, 33-47. 

The pain tolerance protocol itself was long presumed to be lost but was discovered by Dr. Zettle in a cardboard box in his attic in 2024, misfiled with other papers. It is an onion skin carbon copy of a typewritten document, almost unreadable in physical form due to age, but easily readable as a scanned document with high contrast settings

The third is Dr. McCurry's pre-doctoral project (Melancon, 1988). It was based on a joint therapy client seen by Dr. Hayes and Sue Melancon as a graduate student in 1986-87, the transcripts of which formed the basis for the first protocols called "ACT." It is worth noticing that most of the modern elements of ACT including values are clearly in this Comprehensive Distancing protocol. 



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