• 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.