Experiential avoidance is an attempt to mitigate or evade contact with unwanted psychological events. Experiential avoidance becomes clinically relevant if it promotes acting in an unhealthy manner or prevents moving in valued directions and toward meaningful outcomes.
Notice that we used the tenuous word “attempt” in defining experiential avoidance. It’s important to understand that actions aimed at reducing contact with private events—such as emotions, sensations, and feelings—don’t ensure that these events will go away or won’t arise again. In fact, avoidance moves might eventually exacerbate the problematic repertoire.