International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 4 Num. 2 - July 2004


A Proposal for Synthesizing Verbal Contexts in Experiential Avoidance Disorder and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy [Una Propuesta Para Sintetizar los Contextos Verbales en el Trastorno de Evitaci?n Experiencial y la Terapia de Aceptaci?n y Compromiso]

Volume 4 Num. 2 - July 2004 - Pages 377-394


Carmen Luciano Soriano, Miguel Rodr?guez Valverde and Olga Guti?rrez Mart?nez


The present paper offers a proposal of how the natural bidirectionality and function-altering properties of language or verbal behavior may give rise to the pathogenic verbal contexts proposed within the framework of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as responsible for Experiential Avoidance Disorder (EAD). Specifically, it is argued that these four contexts (literality, evaluation, reason-giving and the verbal regulation of the control of private events) are all of them part of a process where the last of them (verbal regulation of the control of private events) is the main one that encloses and gives rise to the other three, by virtue of the fact that it is the only context that involves effective actions and, subsequently, that has contingencies. Accordingly, for the other three contexts become a limitation, it is necessary that the person initiates avoidance attempts that, although reinforcing in the short run, necessarily involve a loss in long-term contingencies (going against personal values). An explanation in RFT terms is offered of how aversive private events increase or decrease their aversiveness (by transformation of functions) depending on how they are experienced in regard to personal values: either when the person behaves as if negatively evaluated private events were in opposition to valuable actions, or when the person behaves as if private events were in coordination to valuable actions. The paper also focuses in the RFT analysis of the verbal processes under which some ACT clinical methods might be operating, either in altering both the context of value in which experiential avoidance becomes a problem and in altering cognitive defusion. Clinical and preliminary experimental preparations are presented to make these points, emphasizing the need of basic research paralell to clinical one.

Key words:

Experiential avoidance disorder, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, relational frame theory, verbal contexts, control of private events, verbal regulation, contingencies.

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