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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Contextual Behavioral Science: Examining the Progress of a Distinctive Model of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy
AuthorHayes, Steven C.
Levin, Michael E.
Villatte, Jennifer L.
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A number of recent authors have compared acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and traditional cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). The present article describes ACT as a distinct and unified model of behavior change, linked to a specific strategy of scientific development, which we term “contextual behavioral science.” We outline the empirical progress of ACT and describe its distinctive development strategy. A contextual behavioral science approach is an inductive attempt to build more adequate psychological systems based on philosophical clarity; the development of basic principles and theories; the development of applied theories linked to basic ones; techniques and components linked to these processes and principles; measurement of theoretically key processes; an emphasis on mediation and moderation in the analysis of applied impact; an interest in effectiveness, dissemination, and training; empirical testing of the research program across a broad range of areas and levels of analysis; and the creation of a more effective scientific and clinical community. We argue that this is a reasonable approach, focused on long-term progress, and that in broad terms it seems to be working. ACT is not hostile to traditional CBT, and is not directly buoyed by whatever weaknesses traditional CBT may have. ACT should be measured at least in part against its own goals as specified by its own developmental strategy.