Date of Award

5-1-2018

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Behavior Analysis and Therapy

First Advisor

Rehfeldt, Ruth Anne

Abstract

Many children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) suffer from anxiety, depression, and other disorders. These disorders make it difficult to leave healthy and productive lives and can be experienced across school and social life. The mechanisms underlying anxiety and other disorders can be explained through language and cognition and this is the rational underlying Relational Frame Theory (RFT). RFT suggests that human language and cognition are a direct cause of many human psychological problems as we are able to evaluate words. The cognitive fusion, experiential avoidance, and suppression described by RFT have been expanded to include treatment methods within Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT is a psychotherapeutic approach that attempts to undermine emotional avoidance explained through RFT and promotes positive behavior change. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the efficacy of ACT in increasing value-directed behavior in three adults with ASD. The results of this study revealed that brief ACT experiential exercises were effective in increasing value-directed behavior in all participants. Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), relational frame theory (RFT), Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)

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