A Culturally Informed Approach to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Special Operations Forces

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Kathryn Barrs, Psy.D.

Second Advisor

Terri M. Davis, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Manuel Gonzalez, Psy.D.

Fourth Advisor

Bartley Frueh, Ph.D.


Acceptance and commitment therapy, Psychological flexibility, Special operations forces, Combat veterans, Operator syndrome

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


Special Operations Forces are a unique population of warfighter that possesses a culture distinct from the general military population by virtue of their size, training, operational demands, and predominant healthcare needs and challenges as outlined by “Operator Syndrome.” Due to these discrete challenges and the size of this clandestine force, they have been underrepresented within the scientific literature, and thus not likely served most effectively by current health care programs or traditional models of care. As such, this paper highlights for health care practitioners within the Defense Health Agency (DHA) and Veterans Health Administration (VHA) the strengths and advantages of employing a culturally informed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)-based approach to psychotherapy by outlining SOF-specific metaphors and interventions for use within an SOF context and with SOF veterans.


64 pgs

Paper Method

Treatment Manual

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