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Dangers of using avoidance to cope with stress

“Dr. Adler is interviewed by the Young Post about how to help children use coping strategies to manage stress.”

Dr. Andrew Adler, Director and Psychologist at the Adler Family Centre, warns about the dangers of avoiding people and experiences that are stressful. “We use avoidance as an approach to escape a situation that makes us anxious or depressed,” says Dr. Adler. In fact, those with various mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, attention disorder (ADHD, ADD) often use avoidance coping strategies.

Based on his expertise and experience as a child therapist and on research from behavioural psychology, Dr. Adler recommends the following strategies to stop using avoidant coping, both for children and adults:

  • Identify the sources of stress. This will help in finding alternative strategies to avoidant coping.
  • Reduce guilt. This is almost always necessary in addressing fear and stress about work.
  • Stop thinking in absolutes. This only leads to more stress, which increases avoidant behaviour and, in children, can lead to child behaviour problems.
  • Practise deep breathing.

If these strategies are not helpful, psychological therapy or another form of mental health treatment should be considered. There are many counselling services Hong Kong and psychologists Hong Kong.

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