Introduction: Examining prisoners’ mental health status and providing mental health services to this high-risk group is one of the concerns of psychiatry and health experts in different countries. Also, there are still issues and problems related to criminals and prisoners, especially psychiatric problems as one of the most challenging research areas. This study aimed to compare the effectiveness of Existential Therapy (ET) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) in increasing hope and diminishing irrational beliefs of male prisoners.
Materials and Methods: In the present quasi-experimental study, the statistical population consisted of all married male prisoners aged between 25 to 45 years in Mashhad Central Prison in the first half of 2018. Among them, 36 prisoners were selected and then randomly placed in three research groups. Then, the two experimental groups underwent eight separate sessions of ET and ACT. At the beginning and end of the study, all three groups were assessed for hope and irrational beliefs.
Results: Analysis results showed that, in comparison with the control group, changes in the two groups of ET and ACT were significant regarding hope and irrational beliefs of male prisoners. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of ET in increasing hope was higher than that of ACT.
Conclusions: The effectiveness of ET and ACT seems to be almost the same for irrational beliefs (but not for hope) of male prisoners. However, we suggest further investigations to provide a better vision of the effectiveness of these therapeutic approaches for prisoners with special needs.