Avoidance, Escape, and Control

What is avoidance?

Two of the target areas for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are avoidance and escape. Avoidance relates to things we do to ‘avoid’ as it relates to unwanted tasks or stimuli. Examples of common and not so common avoidance behaviors are listed below:

  • Watching TV instead of taking out the trash
  • Not sleeping for fear of nightmares
  • Using substances to not think about trauma
  • Staying in your room because of the belief that no one likes you

Avoidance is functional and works very well in the short-term. However, in the long-term its effects can be disastrous. Below is a list of some ways avoidance can create problems in life:

  • Relationships break apartMan experiencing stress from control
  • Job loss
  • Changes in health
  • Problematic substance use
  • Decrease in self-esteem

What is escape?

Avoidance occurs when we do not want to encounter a stressful stimulus. Escape, on the other hand, occurs once a stressful stimulus is present. Escape behaviors patterns can differ from person-to-person. Examples of escape behaviors could be:

  • Walking away when you and your partner begin to verbally fight
  • Leaving a job that is not a good fit

Escape has functionality in our lives. It’s when escape it taken to the extreme that it can cause challenges in our life like avoidance above can.

What does this mean? 

Avoidance and escape are our attempts to exert control in life. We as humans enjoy a certain amount of predictability in our lives. Too much control and we can find our lives narrowing greatly over time. Our goal then is to promote and foster psychological flexibility in which a person has the ability to respond to stressful stimuli in a way that is aligned with their values and character.

Revitalize Mental Health PLLC has ACT trained therapists in Denver, CO

Our therapists are trained to identify and target avoidance, escape, and control patterns. Call now or submit a form here to see how working with one of our therapists in Denver, CO can help you live the life you desire.

Location Map: 6000 East Evans Avenue Denver, CO 80222

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