ACT on Health Lab

Building Relationships with Vitality and Engagement


In partnership with veteran-centered rural community organizations, the BRAVE project is focused on identifying distressed rural veterans and delivering a one-day evidence-based mental health workshop followed by a one-day couples’ workshop for veterans and their partners.


Background Information

  • Relationship difficulties are prevalent among veterans, impacting as many as 75% of those seeking mental health services.
  • Relationship distress is associated with a range of negative outcomes including exacerbation of hopelessness and risk for suicide. Conversely, stable relationships are a source of resilience.
  • Unfortunately, many distressed veterans never access or engage in mental health care because of concern they will be seen as damaged or weak.

In the preceding three years of funding from VHA Office of Rural Health (FY2019-FY2021), we have delivered an innovative and accessible one-day Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) workshop to 75 rural veterans in rural CBOs. Three months following the workshop, veterans reported improvements in community reintegration and decreased distress. veterans appreciated the workshop being offered in a rural community setting, recommended the workshop to other distressed veterans, and had more positive perceptions of the VA as a result of attending the workshop (Dindo et al. 2020). In fact, after attending the workshop, veterans consistently asked for additional follow-up sessions to continue treatment and the opportunity to include their partners.

The current project aims to provide two-day ACT and Integrative Behavioral Couples Therapy (workshops for distressed rural veterans and their partners. Day One will include veterans only. Day Two (weeks later) will include veterans and their partners and will focus on building intimacy. Veterans will have the opportunity to choose an in-person or on-line format. They will also be invited to help with outreach activities of other distressed rural veterans.


Study Specifications

  • Sample Size: 50 rural veterans and their partners/year
  • Recruiting: ~ Six-to-seven veterans and their partners/ month
  • Intervention Group: Day One - ACT workshop (veteran only) ; Day Two (two to three weeks later) - Couple’s workshop (veteran and partner)

Study Contact


Contact Name: Ken Woods, U.S. Army Veteran
Phone Number: 713-440-4612