Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Lee, Eric


Both traditional cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy appear to be efficacious treatment packages for adult depression based on past research. Furthermore, some of the cognitive components of these treatments, cognitive restructuring and defusion, seem to produce similar outcomes and work partially through the same processes, despite being theoretically opposed to each other. While defusion has been studied extensively, the other component of the openness pillar of ACT, willingness, has not yet received the same empirical attention. Therefore, the aim of this study was to clarify the differences between the cognitive components of CBT and ACT in terms of treatment outcomes and processes. Individuals with moderate to severe levels of depression symptoms took part in a week-long, online intervention meant to help them cope with a self-relevant, unwanted/unpleasant thought. Participants were randomly assigned to practice either cognitive restructuring or defusion & willingness using daily thought logs. Both within-and-between subjects effects were examined (i.e., pre-to-post treatment scores within conditions and post-treatment scores between conditions) and revealed that both interventions provided benefit to participants through shared processes. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed along with future directions.




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