acceptance and commitment therapy training

Author: Janina Scarlet, PhD

Losing a parent can be devastating. Losing a parent and a sibling in one week can be excruciating. That is exactly what happened to “Joe” (not real name), after his father and brother both died a few days apart, following a car crash.

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.


Exposure therapy is a behavioral treatment that involves gradually approaching a feared situation in a controlled and systematic manner. Exposure therapy is used to treat anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive and related-disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, as well as other anxiety-related problems (Abramowitz, Deacon, & Whiteside, 2011; Nathan & Gorman, 2015).

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