Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology

Experiential Avoidance Process Model: A Review of the Mechanism for the Generation and Maintenance of Avoidance Behavior


Weinan Normal University, School of Physical Education, Weinan, China


Weinan Normal University, School of Foreign Languages, Weinan, China


Department of Physical Education, Chang’an University, Xi’an, China

Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology 2024; 34: 179-190
DOI: 10.5152/pcp.2024.23777
Read: 236 Downloads: 102 Published: 22 February 2024

Experiential avoidance refers to a phenomenon in which individuals exhibit an unwillingness to engage with certain personal experiences, including physical sensations, emotions, thoughts, memories, and behavioral tendencies. They employ cognition and emotions to avoid these experiences. Extensive research has linked experiential avoidance to various mental diseases, conduct disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. While the existing literature highlights the significance of understanding experiential avoidance as a central mechanism underlying psychological symptomatology development and maintenance, further investigation is required to comprehend its dimensions and mechanisms fully. Therefore, this article aims to provide a comprehensive review of the current theories and empirical evidence on experiential avoidance while elucidating its association with psychopathology. We propose a model of experiential avoidance processes based on an extensive review and critical analysis of the previous emotion regulation model that integrates expressive suppression and cognitive reappraisal during emotion regulation through experiential avoidance. This proposed model seeks to explain both the formation and maintenance aspects of experiential avoidance by offering valuable insights for future research. We also examined the association between experiential avoidance and various psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, depression, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Elaborating on these mechanisms provides a roadmap for future research endeavors and clinical interventions.

Cite this article as: Wang Y, Tian J, Yang Q. Experiential avoidance process model: A review of the mechanism for the generation and maintenance of avoidance behavior. Psychiatry Clin Psychopharmacol. 2024;34(2):179-190.

EISSN 2475-0581