Merging Social and Clinical Concepts: Self-Compassion and Acceptance and Action

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Given that the National Institute of Health is currently focusing on a translational approach to research, the fields of clinical and social psychology have been coming together to foster mutual understandings of shared concepts. Acceptance and action, two processes in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, are prevalent in the clinical research and literature following the advent of 3rd wave (cognitive and behavioral) therapies. During this same time self-compassion, or the concept that internal states should be accepted by the individual as only responses to the environment and that the individual should continue to act on value directed goals, has been gaining credibility in the social psychology literature. Self-compassion combines mindfulness, recognition of a common humanity, and self-kindness. The current study focuses on selfcompassion and acceptance and action.. These two concepts share similarities by way of encouraging the individual to look at situations and reactions objectively and accept the negative aspects as part of the human experience not as a reflection of self. These two concepts may be particularly relevant when dealing with a stigmatizing characteristic or situation. Specifically, the individual at risk for perceiving stigma may engage these tools to understand that others experience similar situations and that their internal reactions are part of the human condition. Thus, the implementation of such concepts could mitigate some of the negative aspects of stigma. The current study looks at self-compassion and acceptance and action in the context of parental reactions regarding their children’s behavioral concerns. Specifically, we look at parents’ stigma of their child’s behavior, stigma of seeking help for their child, and willingness to seek help. Initial analysis of this cross-sectional data revealed that among parents, higher scores on acceptance and action, as well as self-compassion, predicted lower perceived stigma of the problem behavior. Additionally, parents’ stigma of seeking help for their child’s behavior predicted willingness to seek help, suggesting that in addition to logistical barriers (e.g., transportation, availability of services) to seeking help for their children, parents may also face social psychological barriers. These findings identify specific concepts that may influence parents’ perception of stigma and willingness to seek services that can be targeted to increase service use for children with behavioral problems. Discussion will surround the specific settings in which parents are willing to seek services (doctor’s office versus mental health facility) and the roles of self-compassion and acceptance in reducing stigma in order to enhance service seeking.


Johnson City, TN

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