An Avoidant Personality Disorder Treatment You Should Know About

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Avoidant personality disorder (AVPD) is a mental health condition that affects around 2.1% of adults in the United States. It’s generally characterized by an aversion to social situations in which rejection and criticism are possible. Read on to learn other signs of AVPD. Then you can discover a beneficial treatment option for this condition.

What are signs of avoidant personality disorder?

There are criteria for a professional medical provider or licensed clinical therapist to make an AVPD diagnosis. A person must experience at least four of the following signs:

  • Avoiding social situations — A common sign of avoidant personality disorder is constantly trying to avoid social situations. This is known as social avoidance. People display social avoidance by trying to remove themselves from situations where they could be rejected or disapproved of.
  • Avoiding deep relationships — A sign of avoidant personality disorder is avoiding building connections with others. People with AVPD may maintain surface-level relationships with others. They may avoid romantic relationships and other deep connections. It’s rooted in fear of being shamed or rejected. It’s also possible that they avoid deep relationships with others unless they’re certain that they’ll be accepted.
  • Avoiding meeting new people — It’s common for someone in need of AVPD treatment to try to avoid new people. They may stick closely to a small group of loved ones and dread introductions to new people. There’s the thought that new people can lead to being rejected, disliked or put down.
  • Avoiding new social activities and experiences — Just as they’re afraid of meeting new people, most people with AVPD are also intimidated by the prospect of new social activities and experiences. For example, they may experience fear of embarrassment from a dinner party invitation. As a result, they may consistently decline such invitations.

PBT: A treatment option that may benefit people with avoidant personality disorder

Many people may relate to the signs listed above and struggle to perform daily functions as a result. That’s why treatment is necessary and can be worthwhile for people with AVPD. Process-based therapy, or PBT, is a therapeutic approach to AVPD treatment. It focuses on the four core processes that are at the root of every mental health disorder, including avoidant personality disorder: difficulty with emotions, behaviors, relationships and thoughts. 

PBT can help address your core processes to achieve your mental health goals. It uses integrated interventions, such as arousal reduction and values clarification.

PBT integrates a variety of psychotherapy modalities, including:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — CBT focuses on your cognitive, behavioral and emotional patterns. It helps you see how they affect one another to cause your AVPD symptoms. This type of therapy can help you identify and adjust unhealthy ways of thinking that lead to behavior and emotions of AVPD. For example, it can help reduce the shame you feel from criticism or ridicule.
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) — ACT is a type of psychotherapy that helps you embrace the emotions and thoughts that stem from an avoidant personality disorder. By accepting them, you’re able to commit to being mindful of your emotions and taking action to reduce them. Accepting discomfort during social situations can help you take steps to alleviate it.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) — DBT stems from CBT. However, it focuses on emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness and distress tolerance. These four facets of DBT can help you gain an understanding of your AVPD symptoms as they occur, such as shyness around new people. Then you can adjust your thought patterns.
  • Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) — AVPD is often caused by a traumatic event. CPT can help you change your perspective on the thoughts and feelings that stem from your trauma. Those patterns can contribute to your AVPD. Cognitive processing therapy typically takes place over the course of 12 sessions.

Lightfully utilizes PBT for clients experiencing avoidant personality disorder

Avoidant personality disorder symptoms can interfere with your overall quality of life. It can have a significant impact on your interpersonal relationships. We use process-based therapy as a framework of our clinic for whole-person-centered care to help you treat your AVPD.Positive change is within reach. When you’re ready to take the first step, connect with our Admissions Concierge Team. Together, let’s embark on a journey toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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