An Acceptance Approach to Experiential Avoidance in First Responders Using Virtual Reality Exposure Induction

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

John McNeill, Psy.D.

Second Committee Member

Fernand Lubuguin, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Rachel Nielsen, Psy.D.


Acceptance, Exposure, First responders, Virtual reality

Publication Statement

Copyright held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


First responders experience a range of short-term and long-term psychological reactions to traumatic and non-traumatic stressors in the line of duty. Psychological training and treatment programs have been created to help first responders cope with such reactions before, during, and after stressful and/or traumatic incidents. The majority of these are solution focused approaches centered on a common therapeutic objective—experiential control. The alternative to experiential control is acceptance. Contextual behavioral therapeutic frameworks promote acceptance-based practices as a means to developing psychological flexibility in service of value-committed action. Virtual reality (VR) is a technological tool that is often used by military and first responders for incident response training as well as for treatment of posttraumatic stress responses. This paper examines the role of acceptance-based training incorporating virtual reality as the induction method for animating performance enhancement training of first responders.


52 pgs

Paper Method

Theoretical Analysis and Synthesis

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