Testing Functional Analytic Psychotherapy's mediational model of change in social connectedness for people with fear of intimacy


In efforts to decrease psychological distress, psychotherapy frequently focuses on a client's intimate relationships and connectedness with others. One contextual-behavioral approach, Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP), aims to do so by employing the therapeutic relationship to shape improvements in the clients' in-session interpersonal behaviors. In a recent randomized trial of a FAP intervention for dyads who wanted to improve their relationships (Kanter et al., 2018), clients who presented with fear of intimacy were specifically taught in-session interpersonal skills to improve intimate behaviors and connectedness within dyads and reduce related fears. The current study employed a secondary analysis of those data and tested a mediational model in which decreases in fear of intimacy from pre-treatment to post-treatment for these participants would be associated with increases in social connectedness, and this association would be mediated by increases in self-reported intimacy-related behaviors. Results indicated that as fear of intimacy decreased, social connectedness increased, and this association was partially mediated by self-reported improvements in the intimacy-related behaviors targeted by the intervention. Thus, findings support a model in which fear of intimacy is associated with avoidance of intimacy-related behaviors which in turn decreases social connectedness; when these behaviors are targeted and improved, fear of intimacy may decrease and social connectedness may increase.

Publication Title

Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science