Acceptance and mindfulness-based therapy: new wave or old hat?

Clin Psychol Rev. 2008 Jan;28(1):1-16. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2007.09.003. Epub 2007 Sep 18.


Some contemporary theorists and clinicians champion acceptance and mindfulness-based interventions, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), over cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for the treatment of emotional disorders. The objective of this article is to juxtapose these two treatment approaches, synthesize, and clarify the differences between them. The two treatment modalities can be placed within a larger context of the emotion regulation literature. Accordingly, emotions can be regulated either by manipulating the evaluation of the external or internal emotion cues (antecedent-focused emotion regulation) or by manipulating the emotional responses (response-focused emotion regulation). CBT and ACT both encourage adaptive emotion regulation strategies but target different stages of the generative emotion process: CBT promotes adaptive antecedent-focused emotion regulation strategies, whereas acceptance strategies of ACT counteract maladaptive response-focused emotion regulation strategies, such as suppression. Although there are fundamental differences in the philosophical foundation, ACT techniques are fully compatible with CBT and may lead to improved interventions for some disorders. Areas of future treatment research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affective Symptoms / psychology
  • Affective Symptoms / therapy
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Cognition Disorders / therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / standards
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / trends
  • Cues
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Problem Solving