Date Presented 03/31/2022

OTs play an important role in addressing the psychosocial needs of military veterans in a variety of treatment settings. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy that aligns well with the current occupational therapy practice framework. This study aims to identify occupational therapist knowledge and perspectives regarding the integration of ACT components into current intervention strategies utilized with military veterans.

Primary Author and Speaker: Tomi M. Martowski

Contributing Authors: Amanda K. Giles

PURPOSE: There is a high prevalence of psychiatric conditions among military veterans, especially those with comorbid medical conditions (Trivedi et al., 2015). To address the psychosocial needs of these veterans, treatment should be delivered and integrated into diverse treatment settings and addressed by the interdisciplinary healthcare team, which includes occupational therapists. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based, transdiagnostic psychotherapy (Dindo et al., 2017) that aligns well with the current occupational therapy (OT) practice framework and can be utilized by occupational therapists to meet this need. The purpose of this study is to determine current psychosocial intervention knowledge among occupational therapists, what strategies therapists are utilizing to address the psychosocial needs of veterans, and therapist views on receiving education regarding ACT.

DESIGN: This needs assessment is being conducted utilizing a mixed-methods approach including qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys with occupational therapists.

METHOD: Qualitative interviews were conducted with occupational therapy practitioners (n = 3) to obtain practitioner perspectives on the role of OT in veteran mental health and a need for education regarding psychosocial intervention methods. In addition, REDCap surveys will be distributed to clinicians to gather data regarding current psychosocial intervention knowledge, strategies being utilized with the veteran population and familiarity with ACT. These surveys will include multiple choice, Likert scale and open-ended questions.

RESULTS: A preliminary analysis of qualitative interview data was conducted. Data was transcribed and analyzed to identify three common themes: (1) veterans are often medically complex patients with co-occurring psychological and physical conditions, (2) therapists are familiar with interventions like Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), but are not familiar with ACT, (3) ACT is a treatment modality that could be integrated into existing OT intervention strategies with veterans. REDCap survey data will be analyzed utilizing quantitative methods to evaluate attitudes of occupational therapy practitioners working with veterans. All data will be summarized to determine overall findings and potential next steps for the development of ACT educational materials for clinicians.

CONCLUSION: Practitioners who have experience treating veterans reported a need for more evidence-based psychosocial interventions that can be utilized by occupational therapists and think ACT can meet this need. Therapists are interested in learning more about the ACT model and techniques. Adequate training in ACT has the potential to offer clinicians an effective and evidence-based treatment strategy that can be utilized to address the psychosocial needs of military veterans.


Dindo, L., Van Liew, J.R. & Arch, J.J. (2017). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: A transdiagnostic behavioral intervention for mental health and medical conditions. Neurotherapeutics, 14, 546–553.

Trivedi, R. B., Post, E. P., Sun, H., Pomerantz, A., Saxon, A. J., Piette, J. D., Maynard, C., Arnow, B., Curtis, I., Fihn, S. D., & Nelson, K. (2015). Prevalence, comorbidity, and prognosis of mental health among US veterans. American Journal of Public Health, 105(12), 2564–2569.