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Experiential avoidance (EA) is the unwillingness to remain in contact with distressing thoughts, feelings, memories, and other private experiences (Hayes et al., 2004; Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999). Although the use of EA may lead to immediate reductions in distress, prolonged use can result in problem behaviors such as substance misuse (Hayes, Wilson, Gifford, Follette, & Strosahl, 1996). Although a strong temporal relationship has yet to be established, findings suggest a possibility that EA could be a mechanism by which posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms are developed and maintained (Krause, Mendelson, & Lynch, 2003; Rosenthal, Polusny, & Follette, 2006; Dvorak, Arens, Kuvaas, Williams, & Kilwein, 2013). Undergraduate students (N = 107; Mage = 20) were recruited to complete self-report measures regarding EA, childhood trauma history, PTSD symptoms, and problem behaviors using an anonymous online survey. Consistent with predictions and the current literature, EA was significantly associated with childhood trauma exposure, PTSD symptoms, sexual promiscuity, and aggression in the expected directions. EA predicated PTSD symptoms and problem behaviors above and beyond childhood trauma history, strengthening the predictive model as hypothesized. Clinical and research implications are discussed.
Trim, Elise, "Experiential avoidance post-trauma: Investigating predictors of traumatic stress and problematic behavior." (2015). Honors Theses. 2640.
Honors Thesis-Open Access