Treatment of avoidance behavior as an adjunct to exposure therapy: Insights from modern learning theory

Michael Treanor, Tom J. Barry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Pathological avoidance of benign stimuli is a hallmark of anxiety and related disorders, and exposure-based treatments have often encouraged the removal of avoidance, or safety behaviors, due to their negative effects on extinction learning. Unfortunately, empirical evidence suggests that avoidance behaviors can persist following treatment, and the mere availability of avoidance behavior can be sufficient to renew fear following successful extinction learning. The present paper critically examines the function of avoidance behavior through the lens of modern learning theory, and speculates on novel behavioral and pharmacological strategies for targeting avoidance as an adjunct to current evidence-based treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-36
Number of pages7
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Volume96
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017

Keywords

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Avoidance learning
  • Exposure therapy
  • Extinction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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