Acceptance and Commitment Therapy with a smartphone

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) can be effective in treating anxiety disorders, yet there has been no study on Internet-delivered ACT for social anxiety disorder (SAD) and panic disorder (PD), nor any study investigating whether therapist guidance is superior to unguided self-help when supplemented with a smartphone application. Until now.

In a new trial, that has just been published in Journal of Anxiety Disorders a total of 152 participants diagnosed with SAD and/or PD were randomized to therapist-guided or unguided treatment, or a waiting-list control group. Both treatment groups used an Internet-delivered ACT-based treatment program and a smartphone application. Outcome measures were self-rated general and social anxiety and panic symptoms.

Treatment groups saw reduced general (d = 0.39) and social anxiety (d = 0.70), but not panic symptoms (d = 0.05) compared to the waiting-list group, yet no differences in outcomes were observed between guided and unguided interventions.

We conclude that Internet-delivered ACT is appropriate for treating SAD and potentially PD. Smartphone applications may partially compensate for lack of therapist support.

  • The first study on Internet-delivered ACT for social anxiety and panic symptoms.
  • Significant reduction observed in general and social anxiety symptoms.
  • Promising results for reduction of panic symptoms with large within-group effect.
  • Smartphone applications may be able to partially compensate for lack of therapist support.

Read the full paper:
Ivanova, E., Lindner, P., Ly, K. H., Dahlin, M., Vernmark, K., Andersson, G., & Carlbring, P. (2016). Guided and unguided Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for social anxiety disorder and/or panic disorder provided via the Internet and a smartphone application: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 44, 27-35. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2016.09.012