According to a recent study published in Behavior Therapy, traditional cognitive behavior therapy (CT) may be more effective for treating anxiety and depression in the long-term than Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). The current study is a follow up comparison of the long-term outcomes of CT and ACT. The original study measured symptoms of students seeking treatment, (n=132) age 18-52 (M=26.7) before and after receiving CT and ACT. At post treatment, both groups improved on measures of depression, anxiety, and general functioning, and the results did not yield a significant difference in effectiveness between the two samples receiving treatment.
This long-term follow up study, conducted 18 months later included a majority (n=91) of the original sample who received either CT (n=45) or ACT (n=46). Although participants in both treatment groups benefitted initially from the different therapies, participants from the CT treatment group gained significant and lasting improvement in their symptoms and functioning:
- 81.8% of CT patients versus 60.7% of ACT patients remained reliably recovered on measures of depression (Beck Depression Inventory-II);
- 72.7% of CT patients versus 56.0% ACT patients remained in the recovered range for anxiety (Beck Anxiety Inventory);
- 46.4% of CT patients versus 22.6% ACT patients maintained improvements in interpersonal and occupational functioning (Outcome Questionnaire); and
- 37.8% of CT patients versus 22.9% of ACT patients remained in the normative range on measures of quality of life (Quality of Life Inventory).
This is the first known comparison of the long-term efficiency of CT versus ACT. While research and replication studies are necessary, these preliminary findings suggest that traditional CT has long-term advantages over ACT in treating depression and anxiety, and in increasing general functioning and overall quality of life.
Forman, E.M., Shaw, J.A., Goetter E.M., Herbert, J.D., Park, J.A., & Yuen, E.K, (2012). Long-term follow-up of a randomized controlled trial comparing acceptance and commitment therapy and standard cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety and depression. Behavior Therapy, 43(4) 801-811