“Giving It Space”:A Case Study Examining Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Health Anxiety in an Older Male Previously Exposed to Nuclear Testing
AbstractMost psychotherapeutic approaches have been developed for problems that have an “irrational” or “pathological” foundation. These approaches often fit poorly with psychological distress that stems from cognitions that are based in reality and may need to be accepted rather than changed. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is currently being applied to a number of conditions, but may be particularly useful in situations where cognitive change is not warranted. This study examined ACT with an older male of Māori descent experiencing high levels of health anxiety resulting from prior nuclear testing exposure while in the military. Results of self-report measures administered at baseline, during treatment, post-treatment, and at 6-week follow-up indicated clinically significant reductions in health anxiety, experiential avoidance, and overall distress. This case study has implications for the utility of ACT with individuals who are distressed about the real possibility that their health has been negatively affected by toxic exposure.