Salters-Pedneault, Tull, & Roemer, 2004

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APA Citation: 

Salters-Pedneault, K., Tull, M. T., & Roemer, L. (2004). The role of avoidance of emotional material in the anxiety disorders. Applied and Preventive Psychology, 11, 95-114.

Publication Topic: 
ACT: Conceptual
ACT: Empirical
Publication Type: 
Anxiety, Anxiety Disorders, Emotion, Avoidance, Learning TheoryAnxiety, Anxiety Disorders, Emotion, Avoidance, Learning Theory

Many psychotherapeutic traditions have conceptualized clinical levels of anxiety as resulting from the avoidance of threatening or emotional material. In this paper we examine behavioral models of avoidance of emotions and emotional material, integrating findings that support established behavioral theories of emotional avoidance and anxiety, and that extend these theories to further explain the intense, intrusive, and interfering nature of clinical anxiety. Research on the suppression and avoidance of emotional material suggests that emotional avoidance and thought suppression may not only hinder the learning process and maintain anxious responding, but may also a) paradoxically heighten anxious responding to threatening cues and b) interfere with emotion functionality, thereby further impeding adaptive responding. Findings are discussed in terms of future research and implications for clinical treatment of anxiety disorders.

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