- 1:obsolete a : an action of emptying, vacating, or clearing away
- b : outlet
2: annulment 3: an act or practice of avoiding or withdrawing from something
In psychology, avoidance coping, or escape coping, is a kind of generally maladaptive coping, characterized by the effort to escape from having to deal with a stressor. Coping refers to behavior that protects people from being psychologically harmed by problematic social experience, a behavior that importantly mediates the impact that societies have on their members. There are variations of this condition including:
- by eliminating or modifying conditions giving rise to problems;
- by perceptually controlling the meaning of experience in a manner that neutralizes its problematic character;
- and by keeping the emotional consequences of problems within manageable bounds.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms are thought to be the precursor to avoidance coping. PTSD symptoms are high stress which cause the person suffering from them to draw into themselves, avoiding the problem entirely and leading to avoidance coping whether it be cognitive or behavioral.
Individuals suffering from avoidance coping, also called Classic or Type I Avoidant Personality Disorder, display a number of symptoms that may be used to diagnose the individual so that they may be treated. Symptoms may include some or all of the following. The individual tends to draw inward. They don't wish to be involved in relationships or social activities, usually showing a fear of commitment. Individuals may do this due to a fear of rejection from their peers, family, or even strangers that they have just met. This withdrawal can create a sense of timidness and appear throughout the personality with indecision and a lack of confidence in their own beliefs or hopes and achievements.
Ways to treat those who use avoidance to cope is to simply reduce the degree in which one ignores emotion. Ways to do this are Cognitive-Behavioral or psychoanalytic therapies. These types of therapies help people express and comprehend their emotions. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (or ACT) can also be used for those who avoid their emotions when coping. It is a particular type of behavioral therapy that focuses on helping a person live a meaningful life by breaking down avoidance coping and reasons as to why it is an unhealthy method of coping with traumatic experiences.
Patients with APD are encouraged to refrain from being in relationships during treatment. This is to protect them from the pain that they believe relationships might cause. Therapists are careful not to push patients too far too fast. If they are pushed too much this may cause more anxiety and lead to depression. Patients should be given plenty of time to get over their avoidance slowly. If they feel like they are being pushed or forced to overcome their avoidance, they may become more depressed and negative. This may also cause them to abandon treatment or if they chose to stay in treatment, they might just resist any further assistance.
Other ways to deal with coping are active-cognitive coping and active-behavioral coping. Active-cognitive coping includes attempts to manage and change ones attitude towards a stressful event and seeing if the event has a positive side or impact on their life. Active-behavioral coping refers to making obvious behavioral attempts to deal with the stressful problem and its effects by taking positive actions after finding out more about the situation.