A novel theory of experiential avoidance in generalized anxiety disorder: A review and synthesis of research supporting a contrast avoidance model of worry

Michelle Gayle Newman, Sandra J. Llera

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

177 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

An important emphasis of the literature on generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) has been to achieve a greater understanding of the function of emotion (e.g., avoidance, dysregulation) in the etiology and maintenance of this disorder. The purpose of the following paper is to propose a new way of conceptualizing emotional sequelae in GAD by detailing the Contrast Avoidance Model of Worry. In presenting this model, we review theory and data that led to our current position, which is that individuals with GAD are more sensitive to feeling emotionally vulnerable to unexpected negative events, and that worry (the key pathological feature of GAD) is employed to prolong and maintain a negative emotional state thereby avoiding an unexpected negative emotional shift, or contrast experience. We also discuss implications for treatment given the presence of a new target for emotional exposure techniques. Finally, we establish the Contrast Avoidance Model within the framework of extant theories and models of pathogenic processes of GAD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-382
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Volume31
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2011

Fingerprint

Anxiety Disorders
Research
Emotions
Maintenance

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

@article{60bce67d2b5a4a31b2c66a69fef7da8c,
title = "A novel theory of experiential avoidance in generalized anxiety disorder: A review and synthesis of research supporting a contrast avoidance model of worry",
abstract = "An important emphasis of the literature on generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) has been to achieve a greater understanding of the function of emotion (e.g., avoidance, dysregulation) in the etiology and maintenance of this disorder. The purpose of the following paper is to propose a new way of conceptualizing emotional sequelae in GAD by detailing the Contrast Avoidance Model of Worry. In presenting this model, we review theory and data that led to our current position, which is that individuals with GAD are more sensitive to feeling emotionally vulnerable to unexpected negative events, and that worry (the key pathological feature of GAD) is employed to prolong and maintain a negative emotional state thereby avoiding an unexpected negative emotional shift, or contrast experience. We also discuss implications for treatment given the presence of a new target for emotional exposure techniques. Finally, we establish the Contrast Avoidance Model within the framework of extant theories and models of pathogenic processes of GAD.",
author = "Newman, {Michelle Gayle} and Llera, {Sandra J.}",
year = "2011",
month = "4",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.cpr.2011.01.008",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "31",
pages = "371--382",
journal = "Clinical Psychology Review",
issn = "0272-7358",
publisher = "Elsevier Inc.",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - A novel theory of experiential avoidance in generalized anxiety disorder

T2 - A review and synthesis of research supporting a contrast avoidance model of worry

AU - Newman, Michelle Gayle

AU - Llera, Sandra J.

PY - 2011/4/1

Y1 - 2011/4/1

N2 - An important emphasis of the literature on generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) has been to achieve a greater understanding of the function of emotion (e.g., avoidance, dysregulation) in the etiology and maintenance of this disorder. The purpose of the following paper is to propose a new way of conceptualizing emotional sequelae in GAD by detailing the Contrast Avoidance Model of Worry. In presenting this model, we review theory and data that led to our current position, which is that individuals with GAD are more sensitive to feeling emotionally vulnerable to unexpected negative events, and that worry (the key pathological feature of GAD) is employed to prolong and maintain a negative emotional state thereby avoiding an unexpected negative emotional shift, or contrast experience. We also discuss implications for treatment given the presence of a new target for emotional exposure techniques. Finally, we establish the Contrast Avoidance Model within the framework of extant theories and models of pathogenic processes of GAD.

AB - An important emphasis of the literature on generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) has been to achieve a greater understanding of the function of emotion (e.g., avoidance, dysregulation) in the etiology and maintenance of this disorder. The purpose of the following paper is to propose a new way of conceptualizing emotional sequelae in GAD by detailing the Contrast Avoidance Model of Worry. In presenting this model, we review theory and data that led to our current position, which is that individuals with GAD are more sensitive to feeling emotionally vulnerable to unexpected negative events, and that worry (the key pathological feature of GAD) is employed to prolong and maintain a negative emotional state thereby avoiding an unexpected negative emotional shift, or contrast experience. We also discuss implications for treatment given the presence of a new target for emotional exposure techniques. Finally, we establish the Contrast Avoidance Model within the framework of extant theories and models of pathogenic processes of GAD.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=79951567979&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=79951567979&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.cpr.2011.01.008

DO - 10.1016/j.cpr.2011.01.008

M3 - Review article

C2 - 21334285

AN - SCOPUS:79951567979

VL - 31

SP - 371

EP - 382

JO - Clinical Psychology Review

JF - Clinical Psychology Review

SN - 0272-7358

IS - 3

ER -