Background: Worry is a key component of anxiety and may be an effective target for therapeutic intervention. We compared two psychological processes (attention and acceptance) on the frequency of intrusive worrying thoughts in an experimental worry task.Method: 77 participants were randomised across three groups and completed either a 10 minute attention or acceptance-based psychological exercise, or progressive muscle relaxation control. We subsequently measured anxiety, and the content and frequency of intrusivethoughts before and after a ‘worry induction task’.Results: Groups did not differ in baseline worry, anxiety or thought intrusions. Both attention and acceptance-based groups experienced fewer negative thought intrusions (post-worry) compared to the relaxation control group. The acceptance exercise had the largest effect, preventing ‘worry induction’. Increases in negative intrusive thoughts predicted subjective anxiety.Discussion: We provide evidence that acceptance and attention psychological exercises may reduce anxiety by reducing the negative thought intrusions that characterise worry.
Ainsworth, B., Bolderston, H., & Garner, M. (2017). Testing the differential effects of acceptance and attention-based psychological interventions on intrusive thoughts and worry. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 91, 72-77. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2017.01.012