Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as a Treatment for Anxiety and Depression: A Review

Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2017 Dec;40(4):751-770. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2017.08.009.


Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a modern form of cognitive behavioral therapy based on a distinct philosophy and basic science of cognition. This article reviews the core features of ACT's theoretic model of psychopathology and treatment and its therapeutic approach. It provides a systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating ACT for depression and anxiety disorders. Summarizing 36 RCTs, ACT appears to be more efficacious than waitlist conditions and treatment-as-usual, with largely equivalent effects relative to traditional cognitive behavioral therapy. Evidence indicates that ACT treatment outcomes are mediated through increases in psychological flexibility, its theorized process of change.

Keywords: ACT; Acceptance and commitment therapy; Anxiety; Depression; Psychological flexibility.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy / methods*
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Humans