• Acceptance and values clarification versus cognitive restructuring and relaxation: A randomized controlled trial of ultra-brief non-expert-delivered coaching interventions for social resilience.

      Hochard, Kevin; Hulbert-Williams, Lee; Ashcroft, Sam; McLoughlin, Shane; University of Chester; Liverpool John Moores University
      Low social resilience (e.g., susceptibility to social anxiety, and social avoidance) has been associated with poor mental and physical health outcomes, and can lead to ostracism. Support services such as university counselling centres, which deal with non-diagnosable psychological distress, linked to low social resilience, require effective yet brief interventions deliverable by non-experts to meet service demands. As it is not always possible to prevent subjectively negative experiences, acceptance-based interventions aim to change how we respond behaviourally to such experiences. The present study tests the efficacy of an ultra-brief (1hr) non-expert delivered acceptance and values-based (AV) coaching intervention to increase resilience to negative social interactions. This was compared to a comparable dose of a cognitive restructuring and relaxation-based (CRR) analogue, and a psycho-education and progressive muscle relaxation-based (PE-PMR) control. Participants ( N =60) were assessed on perceived burdensomeness, belonging, and 3 scenarios measuring anxiety and likelihood to engage in social situations. Participants then played Cyberball, an ostracising task, before recompleting the aforementioned measures. Physiological measures indicated Cyberball was an aversive experience. In the AV condition only, we observed an improved behavioral intention to engage with social scenarios ( dppc2 = .57). Ultra-brief AV-based coaching interventions delivered by non-expert coaches appear promising in increasing participant’s likelihood to continue engaging in social interactions after a stressful social experience. We tentatively conclude that gains in committed action may increase the propensity of at-risk individuals to seek social support.
    • Psychological flexibility correlates with patient-reported outcomes independent of clinical or sociodemographic characteristics

      Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J.; Storey, Lesley (Springer, 2015-12-17)
      Purpose: The evidence for the effectiveness of psychological interventions for cancer patients is currently unclear. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which increases individual’s levels of psychological flexibility, may be more effective than other frameworks of psychological intervention, but good quality research is needed to inform adoption and implementation. This study explored the correlation between psychological flexibility and patient reported outcomes to assess the viability of this intervention for cancer survivors. Methods: Recruitment was co-ordinated through a regional cancer centre. 129 respondents completed a cross-sectional postal questionnaire. They were of mixed gender, diagnosis and cancer stage; a mean 61 years old; and a mean 207 days post-diagnosis. Self-report questionnaires assessed psychological flexibility, mood, anxiety, depression, stress, quality of life and benefit finding. Results: Psychological flexibility was a strong and consistent correlate of outcome; effects were maintained even when potentially confounding clinical and socio-demographic characteristics were controlled. Conclusions: Psychological flexibility can be modified through ACT-based interventions. Given the strong correlational evidence found in this study, it seems that such interventions might be useful for cancer survivors. High quality and well-designed controlled trials are now needed to establish effectiveness.
    • Ultra-brief non-expert-delivered defusion and acceptance exercises for food cravings: A partial replication study

      Hulbert-Williams, Lee; Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J.; Nicholls, Wendy; Williamson, Sian; Poonia, Jivone; Hochard, Kevin D.; University of Chester (SAGE, 2017-03-10)
      Food cravings are a common barrier to losing weight. This paper presents a randomised comparison of non-expert group-delivered ultra-brief defusion and acceptance interventions against a distraction control. Sixty-three participants were asked to carry a bag of chocolates for a week whilst trying to resist the temptation to eat them. A behavioural rebound measure was administered. Each intervention out-performed control in respect of consumption, but not cravings. These techniques may have a place in the clinical management of food cravings. We provide tentative evidence that the mechanism of action is through decreased reactivity to cravings, not through reduced frequency of cravings.