Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Fibromyalgia: A Case Study


Amy Dexter

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Capstone

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

John McNeil

First Committee Member

Lavita Nadkarni

Second Committee Member

Tina Pittman


Fibromyalgia; Acceptance; Mindfulness; Values


Fibromyalgia (FM) is one of the most commonly recognized widespread chronic pain conditions, consisting of persistent pain, fatigue, poor quality sleep, cognitive impairments, abdominal discomfort, headache, and tenderness. There is also high comorbidity with psychological distress, particularly affective and anxiety disorders. It is understood that a medical approach to treatment alone is generally insufficient for symptom management and improved functioning of FM patients and that a multidisciplinary approach including mental health is most effective, though most psychological treatments studied seem to have relatively small to modest effects at best. More recently, investigators are examining treatment outcomes focused on improved functioning and quality of life rather than pain or symptom reduction. This includes increasing focus on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which aims to cultivate psychological flexibility and values-driven action, and has strong research support in the treatment of chronic pain. ACT emphasizes a change-process focused on psychological functions and contexts of action rather than on altering the content or form of psychological events outright. The present case study aims to illustrate the change- process in psychotherapy for a case involving FM and comorbid depression, as informed by an ACT model of psychopathology and intervention, and its philosophical and theoretical frameworks. Treatment took place over the course of 15 weekly sessions with a one-month and a three-month follow-up session. Throughout, observed and reported changes in psychological flexibility and acceptance for unwanted experiences and circumstances were identified.


Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


39 pages

Paper Method

Case Study

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