Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only


A rich line of CBT research has established support for the use of cognitive therapy techniques (e.g., restructuring) for treating depression and low self-esteem. Cognitive defusion, a component of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, attempts to alter the context and function of thoughts without targeting thought content or frequency. The current study examined the efficacy of cognitive defusion against a wait-list control for improving self-esteem. Random assignment of twenty-two college students reporting low self-esteem and general distress showed that three sessions of cognitive defusion improves self-esteem, depressive symptoms, general distress, negative thinking, and experiential avoidance. Furthermore, the present study extended the work of Clore and Gaynor (2006, 2007) by providing modest comparison data of cognitive defusion vs. thought record training, fluency training, and supportive therapy. Overall, the data suggest that cognitive defusion may be an active process of ACT and is better than no treatment in increasing self-esteem.

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