Avoidance of feared situations is a core feature of anxiety disorders. While avoidance is usually pretty easy to detect, some forms of avoidance are not so obvious. Indeed, some anxious kids may not overtly avoid a situation, but are sure to take specific actions to prevent a bad outcome. These actions are known as safety behaviors.
Because anxiety is a mind/body experience, the most effective treatment to address it is a mind/body solution. Therapists are most helpful when we begin to gently direct our clients away from the myriad details, and toward the nature and symptoms they are experiencing.
The goal of psychotherapy should be to increase a client’s psychological flexibility. When it comes to clients with emotion regulation disorders, research shows that experiential avoidance and distress intolerance are the two transdiagnostic factors that are responsible for much of the inflexibility that they experience.
Everybody worries, but some people have more than their share. Their peace of mind is often disrupted by “what if?” thoughts of bad possibilities. They recognize that worries are repetitive and unrealistic, but when they try to stop worrying, it gets worse rather than better!