Academic Presentation: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Chronic Headache Pain

On February 20, OCU Assistant Professor of Psychology Matthew Decker provided an academic presentation on “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Chronic Headache Pain.” The presentation was attended by OCU faculty, students and members of the community. The ACT treatment involves being in the moment and making sure your actions match your values.

“For me, ACT and other ‘third wave’ treatments are improvements on the older treatments, but many of them are still being validated for various problems and disorders,” Decker said.

Professor Decker led a study in which participants who suffered from migraines were treated with either the Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) or the ACT method. The findings were that at the three-month mark participants benefited significantly with both methods in quality of life and pain; however, participants reported higher client satisfaction with ACT. Decker continues to research the long term benefits of ACT and how physicians can incorporate the treatment.

“If you look at the future of medicine, interdisciplinary teams are where we are headed. I'd like our [psychology] treatments to be just as rigorously scientifically validated as those that the physician might use,” Decker said.

Gretchen Meyer, a traditional psychology junior, came to the presentation to learn about a different kind of therapy. “It’s nice to come and see what your professors are interested in out of the classroom setting.”

Aleta Noecker, a freshman in the College of Adult and Graduate Studies, used to suffer from bad migraines and wanted to hear Professor Decker’s perspective. “Now I want to know more about ACT. I love psychology.”

Professor Decker’s research on ACT was part of his dissertation towards a Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Clinical Psychology that he is currently working towards from Western Michigan University. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology from Ball State University.

OCU’s next academic presentation will take place on Wednesday, March 6th at 4:30 p.m. in the Science and Logistics Center, Rooms 102/104.