Anxiety and depression in people with acquired brain injury: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as a possible intervention

Johanne Catharina Charlotte Rauwenhoff

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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People with non-congenital brain injuries often have mood symptoms, such as feelings of anxiety or depression. This is why a treatment has been developed: BrainACT. BrainACT is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and adapted to the needs and common problems of people with brain injury. ACT teaches people not to avoid or fight negative thoughts, but to be flexible with them while making choices based on what is truly important to them. This is called psychological flexibility. To know whether BreinACT works, we want to measure how flexibly people deal with the symptoms for which they seek help. The Dutch questionnaires AAQ-NAH and the CFQ-7 appear to be suitable for measuring psychological flexibility and cognitive defusion in people with brain injury. In an initial study of the effectiveness of BrainACT, three participants had reduced symptoms within 2-6 weeks. This was still true a year later. The fourth participant was satisfied with BreinACT even though no change in symptoms was observed. Not every treatment works equally well for everyone. Some characteristics can predict the success of a treatment. Based on an earlier study, a clinical prediction model was developed for people with depressive symptoms after stroke. In the future, these models may help match the right treatment to the right person. We are currently investigating in a large-scale study whether BrainACT is effective for people with anxiety and depressive symptoms after brain injury. We now know that both participants and therapists are generally satisfied with BreinACT. Other results will follow in 2023.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Maastricht University
  • van Heugten, Caroline, Supervisor
  • Peeters, Frenk, Supervisor
  • Bol, Yvonne, Co-Supervisor, External person
Award date30 Nov 2022
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Print ISBNs9789464586978
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • brain injuries
  • mood symptoms
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy


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