Avoidance coping

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In psychology, avoidance coping is a coping mechanism and form of experiential avoidance. It is characterized by a person's efforts, conscious or unconscious, to avoid dealing with a stressor in order to protect oneself from the difficulties the stressor presents.[1] Avoidance coping can lead to substance abuse, social withdrawal, and other forms of escapism. High levels of avoidance behaviors may lead to a diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder, though not everyone who displays such behaviors meets the definition of having this disorder.[2] Avoidance coping is also a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder[3] and related to symptoms of depression and anxiety.[4] Additionally, avoidance coping is part of the approach-avoidance conflict theory introduced by psychologist Kurt Lewin.[5]

Literature on coping often classifies coping strategies into two broad categories: approach/active coping and avoidance/passive coping.[6][7] Approach coping includes behaviors that attempt to reduce stress by alleviating the problem directly, and avoidance coping includes behaviors that reduce stress by distancing oneself from the problem.[8] Traditionally, approach coping has been seen as the healthiest and most beneficial way to reduce stress, while avoidance coping has been associated with negative personality traits, potentially harmful activities, and generally poorer outcomes.[9] However, avoidance coping can reduce stress when nothing can be done to address the stressor.[5]

Measurement[edit]

Avoidance coping is measured via a self-reported questionnaire. Initially, the Multidimensional Experiential Avoidance Questionnaire (MEAQ) was used, which is a 62-item questionnaire that assesses experiential avoidance, and thus avoidance coping, by measuring how many avoidant behaviors a person exhibits and how strongly they agree with each statement on a scale of 1-6.[1] Today, the Brief Experiential Avoidance Questionnaire (BEAQ) is used instead, containing 15 of the original 62 items from the MEAQ.[10]

Treatment[edit]

Cognitive behavioral and psychoanalytic therapy are used to help those coping by avoidance to acknowledge, comprehend, and express their emotions. Acceptance and commitment therapy, a behavioral therapy that focuses on breaking down avoidance coping and showing it to be an unhealthy method for dealing with traumatic experiences, is also sometimes used.[11]

Both active-cognitive and active-behavioral coping are used as replacement techniques for avoidance coping. Active-cognitive coping includes changing one's attitude towards a stressful event and looking for any positive impacts. Active-behavioral coping refers taking positive actions after finding out more about the situation.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Gámez, Wakiza; Chmielewski, Michael; Kotov, Roman; Ruggero, Camilo; Watson, David (September 2011). "Development of a measure of experiential avoidance: The Multidimensional Experiential Avoidance Questionnaire". Psychological Assessment. 23 (3): 692–713. doi:10.1037/a0023242. ISSN 1939-134X.
  2. ^ Weinbrecht, Anna; Schulze, Lars; Boettcher, Johanna; Renneberg, Babette (March 2016). "Avoidant Personality Disorder: a Current Review". Current Psychiatry Reports. 18 (3): 29. doi:10.1007/s11920-016-0665-6. ISSN 1523-3812.
  3. ^ Horwitz, Allan V. (2018). PTSD : a short history. Baltimore, Maryland. ISBN 978-1-4214-2640-2. OCLC 1051003345.
  4. ^ "Toward an assessment of escape/avoidance coping in depression". Behavioural Brain Research. 381: 112363. 2020-03-02. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2019.112363. ISSN 0166-4328.
  5. ^ a b Roth, Susan (1986). "Approach, avoidance, and coping with stress". American Psychologist. 7: 813–819 – via APA PsycNet.
  6. ^ Roth, S; Cohen, L (1986). "Approach, avoidance, and coping with stress". American Psychologist. 813-819. 41 (7): 813–819. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.41.7.813. PMID 3740641.
  7. ^ Kleinke, C (2007). What does it mean to cope. Westport: The Praeger Handbook on Stress and Coping.
  8. ^ Carver, C; Scheier, M; Weintraub, J (1989). "Assessing coping strategies: a theoretically based approach". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 56 (2): 267–283. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.1022.750. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.56.2.267. PMID 2926629.
  9. ^ Holahan, C; Moos, R (1985). "Life stress and health: Personality, coping, and family support in stress resistance". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 49 (3): 739–747. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.49.3.739. PMID 4045701.
  10. ^ Gámez, Wakiza; Chmielewski, Michael; Kotov, Roman; Ruggero, Camilo; Suzuki, Nadia; Watson, David (March 2014). "The Brief Experiential Avoidance Questionnaire: Development and initial validation". Psychological Assessment. 26 (1): 35–45. doi:10.1037/a0034473. ISSN 1939-134X.
  11. ^ Tull, Dr.Matthew. "PTSD and Emotional Avoidance". About.com Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by the Medical Review Board. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
  12. ^ Billings, Andrew G.; Moos, Rudolf H. (1981). "The role of coping responses and social resources in attenuating the stress of life events". Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 4 (2): 139–57. doi:10.1007/BF00844267. PMID 7321033. S2CID 206785490.