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A Randomized Controlled Trial of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Aggressive Behavior

NCJ Number
The Journal of Drug Issues Volume: 1 Issue: 83 Dated: 2015 Pages: 199-212
Date Published
14 pages

The objective of this study was to test the efficacy of a group-based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) intervention for partner aggression, compared with a support and discussion control group, in a clinical sample of adults.


A total of 101 participants (mean age = 31; 68 percent female; 18 percent minority) who endorsed recently engaging in at least two acts of partner aggression were randomly assigned to receive ACT or a support-and-discussion control condition. Both interventions consisted of 12 weekly 2-hr sessions. Assessments at pretreatment, during treatment, posttreatment, and 3 and 6 months after treatment measured psychological aggression (Multidimensional Measure Emotional Abuse Scale [MMEA]), physical aggression (Conflict Tactics Scales [CTS-2]), experiential avoidance (Avoidance and Action Questionnaire [AAQ]), and emotion dysregulation (Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale [DERS]). Results of growth curve modeling analyses demonstrated that participants in the ACT group had significantly greater declines in psychological and physical aggression from pre- to posttreatment and from pretreatment to follow-up and that 6-month treatment outcomes were partially mediated by levels of experiential avoidance and emotion dysregulation at posttreatment. The results of this first trial of ACT for aggressive behavior indicate that the ACT group significantly reduced both physical and psychological aggression and that these changes were significantly greater than those of the control group, suggesting that an ACT approach to aggression may serve as an efficacious treatment for aggression. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2015