On the Cutting Edge of Wellness: Behavioral Medicine and Its Application to Anxiety and Depressive Disorders

Anxiety and depressive disorders are characterized by significant functional limitations and comorbid mental and physical health conditions that diminish quality of life and sense of well-being. Behavioral medicine, an interdisciplinary field combining medicine and psychology, provides increasingly popular evidence-based approaches to the remediation and healing of mental and physical health concerns and the emergence of wellness. The Anxiety and Depression Conference in 2017 will showcase innovations from behavioral medicine and the science of behavior change that have application to symptom reduction and facilitation of wellness in those whose lives have been negatively affected by anxiety and depressive disorders.

Opening Session and Keynote

Thursday, April 6, 2017
5:15 – 6:30 pm

The Power of Turning Toward: Why Psychological Flexibility Matters for Clients and Practitioners Alike

Steven HayesSteven C. Hayes, PhD
Foundation Professor of Psychology
University of Nevada, Reno

Dr. Hayes will describe the science of psychological flexibility as a general model of behavioral development and change and show why it matters to target these processes for change for clients and for the practitioners who serve them. Psychological flexibility is a small set of processes—acceptance, diffusion, flexible attention to the now, perspective taking, values, and committed action—that are known to relate to the development of psychopathology and its complexity and chronicity as well as to successful behavior change and treatment. While psychological flexibility is best known as the model that guides acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), it is increasingly apparent that flexibility processes are central to our understanding of a range of evidence-based treatment methods at the psychological and even the biological level.

The processes of psychological flexibility empower exposure methods and help explain why they work. They help explain the impact of traditional CBT methods; relate to clinicians’ willingness to use exposure and other evidence-based methods; and help clinicians do their work with less burnout, stigmatization of recipients of care, and with a greater sense of personal accomplishment.

An author of 41 books and hundreds of scientific articles, Dr. Hayes is one of the world’s most-cited clinical research psychologists and psychotherapy developers. His work on the nature of human language and higher cognition and its role in human suffering helped form the intellectual basis of acceptance and commitment therapy" (ACT) and the psychological flexibility model. He has served as president of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT), the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS), and other scientific and professional societies. Among his many awards is the ABCT Lifetime Achievement Award. His experience as a panic-disordered person in recovery led to his work in ACT, as described in his TEDx talk.