Janna Keulen

Martinus J. Langeveldgebouw
Heidelberglaan 1
Kamer E2.35
3584 CS Utrecht

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Maja Dekovic and Dr. Denise Bodden

Funding: ZonMW

Project description: The developmental period of middle adolescence to early adulthood is a period characterized by significant variability and change. Due to these significant changes, transitional-age youths (i.e., youths aged 15 to 25; TAY) are at great risk of developing psychological problems. Despite the evidence that the prevalence of psychological disorders among TAY is high, TAY are much less likely to receive treatment for their psychological problems compared to other age groups (e.g., adolescents or adults). In addition, there are few interventions specifically developed for this specific age group. Nowadays, TAY are often treated with interventions developed for either adolescents or adults. These interventions often do not meet TAY’s needs and are not developmentally sensitive. Moreover, most of these interventions mainly focus on reducing symptoms of one specific disorder, instead of targeting transdiagnostic mechanisms underlying symptoms of multiple disorders. By doing so, these interventions are less suitable for TAY with comorbid, chronic or recurrent psychological problems. ACT your way is a transdiagnostic intervention specially developed for TAY. Due to its strong focus on identity and autonomy development, the intervention fits well with the developmental needs of this age group. ACT your way is based on the principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). The main purpose of ACT is to promote psychological flexibility, a transdiagnostic mechanism which can be defined as an individual’s acceptance of negative feelings, thoughts and physical sensations and the ability to choose an adaptive (and more effective) response. Meta-analyses including adults show that ACT is an effective intervention for individuals with depression, anxiety and other types of psychopathology. In addition, a pilot study that has been conducted in TAY with recurrent or chronic depression shows promising effects.

Considering this, the goal of the current study is to examine the (cost-)effectiveness of ACT your way, by comparing ACT your way with treatment as usual (TAU) in 134 TAY (aged 15 to 25) with various psychopathology (including chronic, comorbid and recurrent diagnoses). We expect ACT your way to be more effective and cost-effective compared to TAU. In addition, we will examine several moderators and mediators to study for whom the intervention is effective and how the intervention works.

Also see: ACT your way