The utility of acceptance and commitment therapy after brain injury: psychological flexibility and well-being

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University of New Brunswick


Psychological impacts of acquired brain injury (ABI) include depression and anxiety, which often persist following acute stages of recovery (e.g., formal rehabilitation). Biological factors (e.g., neurological deficits), are generally blamed for the majority of adverse effects, whereas psychological impacts that influence employment, relationships, and even the ability to participate in social activities remain largely unaddressed. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been used to enhance Psychological Flexibility and disease management without targeting any particular pathology making it a versatile therapy for those patients with varied types of impairments. In this study, survivors of ABI completed measures of psychological flexibility, well-being, and reactions to impairment. Participants who reported more maladaptive reactions to impairment had greater physical and psychological symptoms and lower psychological flexibility. Further, Psychological Flexibility predicted significant variance in psychological and physical well-being beyond time and injury severity. Theoretically, implementing ACT in this population early in recovery will improve outcomes. Keywords: Acquired Brain Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury, Life Satisfaction, Reactions to Impairment, Quality of Life, Personality