Bonacquisti, Cohen, Schiller, 2017

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APA Citation: 

Bonacquisti, A., Cohen, M.J., & Schiller, C.E. (2017). Acceptance and commitment therapy for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders: development of an inpatient group intervention. Archives of Women's Mental Health, 20(5), 645-654. doi: 10.1007/s00737-017-0735-8

Publication Topic: 
ACT: Conceptual
ACT: Empirical
Publication Type: 
perinatal, postpartum, depression, anxiety, group

Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality for childbearing women. Current treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy, have demonstrated modest success in addressing perinatal psychiatric symptoms; however, additional treatment options are needed to address the limitations of current approaches, particularly for women experiencing moderate to severe perinatal mental illness during pregnancy or postpartum. We discuss the use of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) as a promising treatment approach that may be uniquely suited for perinatal women due to its emphasis of values, mindfulness, and acceptance; these psychological constructs notably address the significant psychiatric and behavioral health condition comorbidity, somatic symptoms, and stigma associated with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. In addition, we describe the development of a four-session ACT-based group intervention at the Perinatal Psychiatry Inpatient Unit at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Sessions focus on core ACT processes of acceptance, cognitive defusion, present-moment awareness, value identification, and goal setting, and we describe how each of these processes is relevant to the perinatal population. Implications for future clinical applications and research investigations are discussed.

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