Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Improving the Lives of Cancer Patients: A Preliminary Study


Nahed Barakat

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone Project

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

John McNeil

Second Advisor

Hale Martin

Third Advisor

James Gallagher


Acceptance and commitment therapy, Spirituality, Cancer, Religion


Cancer has become prevalent in today's society, placing psychological distress on patients and their families. Psychological interventions can be useful in helping cancer patients live more fully and meaningfully with a cancer diagnosis. Many of the important psychological issues that arise with cancer patients center on existential issues, which suggests that psychological work should be contextualized by the client's spiritual tradition. To date, the most widely studied intervention for treating cancer victims is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). CBT is designed to help the cancer patient manage maladaptive patterns of thought that covary with psychological distress. Given that many of the issues facing cancer patients are existential in nature, it is suggested that an approach based on psychological acceptance (e.g., Acceptance and Commitment Therapy-ACT) may be better suited for treating the existential and quality of life issues based in the ambiguity and uncertainty that a cancer diagnosis ushers to life. The current paper provides a clinical case example of the application of ACT for a cancer patient who suffered with existential anxiety and depression while addressing therapy within the context of her idiographic, spiritual worldview. Further research around issues of spirituality and cancer treatment are recommended.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


36 pages

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