A Clinical Guide to Treating Procrastination Using Contextual Behavioral Science

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

John McNeill, Psy.D.

Second Committee Member

Neil Gowensmith, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Brian Scherzer, Ph.D.


Procrastination, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, ACT

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


Procrastination refers to the action of delaying or postponing completion of a task, usually resulting in brief avoidance of psychological discomfort. Most people engage in some degree of procrastination behavior with minor psychological impact. Others engage in repeated procrastination for small and large tasks alike, which can result in significant emotional distress that is typically managed by additional means of avoidance. Most current interventions for procrastination are cognitive approaches: they aim to identify and challenge cognitive distortions, and they offer time management and organizational skills. However, many chronic procrastinators are delaying work to avoid an aversive emotional experience associated with the task, such as anxiety, shame, self-doubt, or panic. The internal and external resistance to these negative emotional experiences creates additional psychological struggle for the procrastinator, which often keeps the person further from pursuing valued behavior. This paper conceptualizes chronic procrastination as a negatively reinforced behavior and discusses use of an acceptance-based behavioral approach designed to increase psychological flexibility in the service of task completion.


42 pgs

Paper Method

Treatment Manual

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