Evaluating Committed Actions during Acceptance and Commitment Training for Caregivers of People with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities
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Caregivers of people with neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDDs) often experience greater levels of psychological distress (i.e., stress, depression, anxiety) than caregivers of people without disabilities. Prolonged psychological distress can lead to caregiver isolation and negatively impact many aspects of quality of life. Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) has been successful in increasing psychological flexibility through mindfulness and behavioural strategies for caregivers of people with NDDs. Previous ACT research has focused mainly on improving self-reported internal states (e.g., forms of psychological distress like anxiety) versus observable actions (e.g., goal setting). Limited research has focused on the behavioural activation component of ACT (i.e., committed actions), in relation to perceived levels of internal states. Examining the effect of behavioural activation on caregivers’ psychological distress during ACT could be a crucial aspect in understanding the mechanisms that may improve life satisfaction for caregivers of people with NDDs. An ACT workshop in addition to self-monitoring forms and instructions for self-monitoring were delivered to 11 caregivers. Caregivers were asked to self- monitor their committed actions and share their results with the researcher. A quasi-experimental design was used to evaluate the impact of ACT on caregivers’ committed actions before, during, and after the group-based intervention. The results indicated that the frequency of self- monitoring immediately increased from baseline to intervention, however the same frequency was not maintained at follow-up. Statistical analyses showed that decreases in caregivers’ parenting stress was trending towards significance across time. Strengths and limitations of this study are discussed and recommendations for future research are provided.