Effects of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) training on clinical psychology trainee stress, therapist skills and attributes, and ACT processes

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APA Citation: 

Pakenham, Kenneth I. (2015). Effects of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) training on clinical psychology trainee stress, therapist skills and attributes, and ACT processes. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 22, 647-655. doi:10.1002/cpp.1924
 

Publication Topic: 
ACT: Empirical
Publication Type: 
Article
Language: 
English
Keyword(s): 
Clinical Psychology Training; Acceptance and Commitment Therapy; Self-care; Stress; Mindfulness; Acceptance
Abstract: 

Despite the increasing uptake of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) by mental health practitioners, few studies have investigated the effects of ACT training on trainees. Clinical psychology trainees (CPTs) are susceptible to high stress such that their training represents a teachable moment for personal application of the therapy skills they learn for clinical practice. This study investigates the effects of ACT training on stress, therapist skills and attributes, and the personal acquisition of ACT strategies in CPTs. Thirty-two CPTs completed questionnaires before and after university-based ACT training that consisted of 12 2-h weekly workshops. Pairwise t-tests showed that CPTs reported improvements from before to after training on measures of counselling self-efficacy, client–therapist alliance, self-kindness, acceptance, defusion, mindfulness and values, and a marginally significant improvement on somatic symptoms, despite a trend towards increased work-related stress. As predicted, each of the ACT process variables was related to one or more of the therapist stress, skill and attribute variables, such that greater levels of mindfulness, values and acceptance, and less thought suppression were related to better trainee outcomes. This study provides preliminary data on therapist skill development and personal benefits for CPTs related to receiving ACT training that interweaves instruction in competencies acquisition with self-care.

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