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Can Distressing Sexual Thoughts Be Regulated? Experiential Willingness Versus Distraction

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This study examines the effects of different techniques on the management of unwanted sexual thoughts. Participants (N = 150; 67 who found sexual thoughts distressing, 83 participants who did not) were randomly placed into one of three experimental conditions: experiential willingness, distraction, or no strategies for dealing with unwanted sexual thoughts. Participants answered questions assessing attitudes about their sexual thoughts and recorded sexual thought frequency for a 3-minute period pre- and post-intervention. Thought frequencies decreased for all groups post intervention for both the distressed and nondistressed samples. Acceptability of thoughts increased for the experiential willingness group, remained similar for the distraction group, and decreased for the control group. The findings indicate that distraction was more easily implemented, more commonly used, and equally effective to experiential willingness at reducing sexual thoughts in the short term. However, the short experiential willingness intervention increased acceptability of sexual thoughts, which could have an impact on longer-term results.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2018

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