Verder met angst: effect van acceptance and commitment therapy bij studenten en de rol van psychologische flexibiliteit

Katrien Braeckman
We onderzochten of een groepstraining gebaseerd op acceptance and commitment therapy studenten met faalangst helpt. Daarnaast werd onderzoek gevoerd naar de werkzame processen van de training, meer bepaald naar de rol van psychologische flexibiliteit.

Met faalangst een waardevol leven leiden? Het kan!

Met faalangst een waardevol leven leiden? Het kan!

 

Bang om te mislukken

We krijgen constant het gevoel van te moeten presteren. Gewoon goed is vaak niet meer genoeg, het moet alsmaar beter. Dit kan leiden tot stress en angst om te falen. Ook studenten voelen de druk. Naar schatting kampt een op de vijf studenten in Vlaanderen met faalangst. Deze angst heeft een negatieve invloed op het leerproces. Bovendien gaat faalangst gepaard met een minder goede fysieke en mentale gezondheid.

 

Touwtrekken met je monster

Om deze studenten te helpen heeft de Universiteit Gent de groepstraining ‘Verder met angst’ ontwikkeld. Deze training is gebaseerd op acceptatie en commitment therapie. De filosofie van deze therapie is dat pijnlijke gevoelens en gedachten een waardevol leven niet in de weg hoeven te staan. De volgende metafoor illustreert dit. Stel je jouw angst voor als een groot monster waarmee je aan het touwtrekken bent. Je trekt en je trekt, maar het monster trekt steeds harder. In plaats van al je aandacht en energie te besteden aan het bestrijden van dat monster, kan je ook gewoon het touw loslaten. Het monster is misschien niet weg, maar je hebt nu wel je handen vrij om dingen te doen die voor jou echt van tel zijn. Dit wordt psychologische flexibiliteit genoemd.

Touwtrekken met je monster

 

Minder faalangst en meer levenskwaliteit

Acceptatie en commitment therapie is onder meer nuttig voor mensen met een depressie of chronische pijn, maar evenzeer voor wie geen psychologische problemen heeft. Wij stelden ons de vraag of acceptatie en commitment therapie, in de vorm van de groepstraining ‘Verder met angst’, ook studenten met faalangst helpt. Om dit te onderzoeken vulden 57 studenten voor en na de training een vragenlijst in over faalangst. We waren tevens geïnteresseerd in de invloed van de training op hun levenskwaliteit, dus hier vulden ze eveneens vragen over in. Daarnaast wilden we weten hoe deze training werkt. Meer bepaald vroegen we ons af of een toename in psychologische flexibiliteit tijdens de training een verandering in faalangst en levenskwaliteit na de training zou voorspellen.

We kwamen tot de bevinding dat de studenten na de training minder faalangst hadden en meer levenskwaliteit ervaarden dan voor de training. Psychologische flexibiliteit bleek hier een belangrijke rol in te spelen. Hoe beter de studenten tijdens de training flexibel leerden omgaan met hun angst, hoe minder vermijdingsgedrag (een component van faalangst) en hoe meer levenskwaliteit ze na de training hadden. Het is dus aangeraden om vaardigheden te ontwikkelen die je op een andere manier naar angst leren kijken.

 

Je psychologische flexibiliteit vergroten

Maak jij je soms ook zorgen over je prestaties of voel je je wel eens angstig? Hieronder vind je enkele korte oefeningen die je kunnen helpen om veerkrachtiger in het leven te staan.

  • Wanneer piekergedachten weer de kop opsteken, stel jezelf dan voor als de hemel en je gedachten als wolken die voorbij drijven. Welk weer het ook is, jij verandert in wezen niet. Je hebt gedachten en je kan ze observeren, maar je bent ze niet.
  • Stilstaan bij wat voor jou waardevol is, geeft richting aan je leven. Beeld je in dat iemand met een toverstaf zwaait en dat hierdoor al je zorgen en angsten geen invloed meer op je hebben. Hoe zou je leven er dan uitzien? Wat zou je meer of minder willen doen? Met dit in je achterhoofd kan je een plan maken waarin je jouw waarden vertaalt naar doelen en concrete acties.
  • Zit je verstrikt in vervelende gedachten en gevoelens? Pauzeer dan een moment en merk met je volle bewustzijn vijf dingen op die je ziet, hoort en voelt. Hierdoor kom je met je aandacht terug in het hier en nu.

De volgende keer dat gedachten zoals “ik kan het niet” en “het is niet goed genoeg” je overvallen, stel jezelf dan de vraag of je het de moeite waard vindt om daar energie in te steken. De boodschap is om het gevecht tegen angst los te laten en te gaan voor wat jij écht belangrijk vindt in het leven.

Het touw loslaten

Illustraties door Tim Pacific

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Universiteit of Hogeschool
Master of Science in de klinische psychologie
Publicatiejaar
2017
Promotor(en)
Prof. Dr. Lien Goossens
Kernwoorden
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