Emotional schemas, psychological flexibility, and anxiety: The role of flexible response patterns to anxious arousal
Recently, a number of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) process accounts of anxiety disorders have emerged that go beyond an emphasis on cognitive reappraisal or habituation (Barlow, Allen, & Choate, 2004; Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 2011; Leahy, Tirch, & Napolitano, 2011; Mennin, Turk, Heimberg, & Carmin, 2005). Emotional Schema Theory (Leahy, 2002; Leahy, Tirch, & Napolitano, 2011) which is the conceptual framework supporting Emotional Schema Therapy (EST) and the Psychological Flexibility Model, which is the theoretical basis of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT; Hayes, Strosahl; & Wilson, 2011), are two such models. The current, cross-sectional study explores the relationship of emotional schemas, psychological flexibility, and mindfulness in persons with elevated anxiety as measured by the BAI (Beck & Steer, 1993) and the MCMIIII (Millon, 1997). Emotional schemas were assessed using the Leahy Emotional Schema Scale (LESS; Leahy, 2002). Psychological flexibility was measured by the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire II (AAQ-II; Bond et al., 2011). Mindfulness was measured by the Mindful Attention and Awareness Scale (MAAS; Brown & Ryan, 2003). Two hundred ninety-five adult outpatients presenting for CBT took part in this study. Correlational and hierarchical regression analyses demonstrated a series of highly significant relationships among psychological flexibility, mindfulness, and emotional schemas. Psychological flexibility, mindfulness, and adaptive emotional schemas were significantly negatively correlated with anxiety. In regression models, emotional schemas regarding control of affect were the primary predictor of elevated BAI scores while psychological flexibility was the primary predictor of elevated anxiety scores on the MCMI-III. © 2012 International Association for Cognitive Psychotherapy.
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