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A Four-Session Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Based Intervention for Depressive Symptoms Delivered by Masters Degree Level Psychology Students: A Preliminary Study

  • Aino Kohtala (a1), Raimo Lappalainen (a1), Laura Savonen (a1), Elina Timo (a1) and Asko Tolvanen (a1)...


Background: Depressive symptoms are one of the main reasons for seeking psychological help. Shorter interventions using briefly trained therapists could offer a solution to the ever-rising need for early and easily applicable psychological treatments. Aims: The current study examines the effectiveness of a four-session Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) based treatment for self-reported depressive symptoms administered by Masters level psychology students. Method: This paper reports the effectiveness of a brief intervention compared to a waiting list control (WLC) group. Participants were randomized into two groups: ACT (n = 28) and waiting list (n = 29). Long-term effects were examined using a 6-month follow-up. Results: The treatment group's level of depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory) decreased by an average of 47%, compared to an average decrease of 4% in the WLC group. Changes in psychological well-being in the ACT group were better throughout, and treatment outcomes were maintained after 6 months. The posttreatment “between-group” and follow-up “with-in group” effect sizes (Cohen's d) were large to medium for depressive symptoms and psychological flexibility. Conclusions: The results support the brief ACT-based intervention for sub-clinical depressive symptoms when treatment was conducted by briefly trained psychology students. It also contributes to the growing body of evidence on brief ACT-based treatments and inexperienced therapists.


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Reprint requests to Aino Kohtala, Department of Psychology, PO Box 35, 40014 University of Jyväskylä, Finland. E-mail:


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A Four-Session Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Based Intervention for Depressive Symptoms Delivered by Masters Degree Level Psychology Students: A Preliminary Study

  • Aino Kohtala (a1), Raimo Lappalainen (a1), Laura Savonen (a1), Elina Timo (a1) and Asko Tolvanen (a1)...
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