Clinical Effects of an ACT-Group Training in Children and Adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Laura Vanzin, Valentina Mauri, Angela Valli, Marco Pozzi, Giovambattista Presti, Annalisa Oppo, Arianna Ristallo, Massimo Molteni, Maria Nobile

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The aim of the present study is evaluate the effectiveness of an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)-based training protocol, in adjunct to token economy and previous parent training, in a sample of children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). By promoting the reduction of immediate responses to thoughts and feelings, we aimed to reduce the impulsive behaviour of children and to improve their self-regulation. Methods: The protocol was centred on awareness of the present moment, defusion and acceptance of feelings and emotions. Behavioural (Conners’ Parent Rating Scale -Revised: Long version, CPRS-R:L) and severity measures (Clinical Global Impression -Severity, CGI-S) were assessed before and after treatment in a clinical sample of 31 children aged 8–13 years. Results: At the end of the ACT protocol, children showed significant improvement in global functioning and behavioural symptoms. There were significant improvements in the CPRS subscales Cognitive Problems (p = 0.005), Hyperactivity (p = 0.006), Perfectionism (p = 0.017), ADHD Index (p = 0.023), Global Index: Restless–Impulsive (p = 0.023), Global Index: Total (p = 0.036), DSM IV Inattentive (p = 0.029), DSM IV Hyperactive–Impulsive (p = 0.016), and DSM IV Total (p = 0.003). When controlling for the confounding effect of pharmacological therapy, comorbidities and socio-economic status, treatment maintained a significant effect on the CPRS subscales Perfectionism (partial η2 = 0.31, p < 0.01), Global Index: Restless–Impulsive (partial η2 = 0.29, p < 0.01), Global Index: Total (partial η2 = 0.31, p < 0.01), DSM IV Hyperactive–Impulsive (partial η2 = 0.20, p = 0.02). Symptom severity as rated by CGI-S scores decreased in 74.2% of the children. Conclusions: This preliminary work on an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy-based child training in children affected by ADHD resulted in significant improvements, measured by a rating scale specific for ADHD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Sep 11 2019


  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • ADHD
  • Child training
  • Conners parent rating scale
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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