Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2012

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

William Ming Liu


This paper reviews literature on the topic of death anxiety and therapy. The author conducted a study examining potential clients' perceptions of two different therapeutic approaches for working with terminally ill clients with death anxiety. A review of literature relevant to this topic indicates that death anxiety is correlated with many psychological problems; however, there are no clinical studies focused primarily on the treatment of death anxiety among clients with a terminal illness. In this study, potential clients were randomly assigned to watched either a short video of a cognitive behavioral therapy session or a short video of an acceptance and commitment therapy session focused on treating a terminal ill person's death anxiety. After watching the video, potential clients rated the session impact of the therapy approach using the Session Evaluation Questionnaire. In addition, participant's views of seeking psychotherapy were assessed with the Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychology Help measure. No differences in ratings of session impact were found between participants who viewed the cognitive behavioral therapy session and the acceptance and commitment therapy session. However, participants' attitudes toward seeking therapy were positively associated with their views of the therapist and session depth. Consistent with past literature, women reported more death anxiety than men. In regards to potential clients' views of session impact variables, their view of postsession positivity was positively related to their view of session smoothness. Additionally, a positive correlation was found between potential clients' views of the therapist and session depth. Implications and conclusions are discussed.


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Death and Dying, Death Anxiety, Terminal Illness


vii, 142 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 126-142).


Copyright 2012 Joleen Carol Schoulte