avoidant-personality-disorder-treatment

Avoidant Personality Disorder Treatment: The 5-Step Plan

Noam Lightstone The Avoider Mentality, Fear of Intimacy, and Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD) 2 Comments

If you’ve searched online for avoidant personality disorder treatment (AvPD), you might feel down because all you find are articles saying that, “There is no treatment for AvPD.”

That’s not true:

If you’re asking is avoidant personality disorder curable, I’m here to tell you that AvPD is not something you have to live with forever.

All you need is the desire to change, the patience to work on yourself, and some compassion along the way.

In this article, you’ll learn about avoidant personality disorder treatment and how you can start getting over the avoider mentality today by following a 5-step plan.

Exclusive Bonus: Download the 9-point checklist that will show you how to identify and overcome avoidant personality disorder.

A Brief Reminder: What is AvPD?

Now:

One of the most common questions about the avoider mentality and AvPD is what exactly is it? What does it entail?

Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by consistent patterns of:

  • Withdrawing from social situations
  • Feeling inadequate
  • Sensitivity to criticism

When you struggle with AvPD, you’re constantly afraid other people will judge or reject you, with the intent of saying that, “You are not good enough.”

People with AvPD have a very limited external life because they constantly worry about something bad happening to them, which makes them overly risk averse. The thoughts that fill their heads are that they are somehow inferior, and that nobody likes them.

As an avoider, you might think of yourself as bad, unattractive, or awkward.

Because of this, you might avoid parties, social events, or speaking up at work. Many people might call you distant, reserved, or shy. You might also be described as “stiff”.

All of this interferes with your true desires to make friends, have deeper relationships, and move ahead in your career.

Avoidant Personality Disorder Causes: Where Does AvPD Come From?

There are many life events that can contribute to displaying signs of AvPD and requiring avoidant personality disorder treatment. Usually, these events involved harsh or critical judgement, rejection, fear, anxiety, and withdrawal. Examples include:

  • Bullying
  • Deaths of close loved ones or friends
  • Self-harm attempts
  • Sexual abuse / assault
  • Divorce
  • Troubling relationships or break-ups

Because everyone’s life is full of so many different events, one or more of these may have contributed to how you feel right now. This might also affect how your avoidant partner behaves in your current relationship as well.

Now:

There could also be something that’s not listed here, so it can also be useful to look at the specific symptoms you might be dealing with.

avoidant-personality-disorder-causes

Avoidant Personality Disorder Symptoms

AvPD is part of the Cluster C personality disorders as laid out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-4 (DSM-IV) and DSM-5 (DSM-V). Cluster C personality disorders are characterized by anxious, fearful thinking or behavior.

The DSM-IV and DSM-V list the following as official AvPD symptoms:

The essential features of a personality disorder are impairments in personality (self and interpersonal) functioning and the presence of pathological personality traits. AvPD represents a pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:

    1. Avoids occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact, because of fears of criticism, disapproval, or rejection
    2. Is unwilling to get involved with people unless certain of being liked
    3. Shows restraint within intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed
    4. Is preoccupied with being criticized or rejected in social situations
    5. Is inhibited in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy
    6. Views self as socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others
    7. Is unusually reluctant to take personal risks or to engage in any new activities because they may prove embarrassing

The essential features of a personality disorder are impairments in personality (self and interpersonal) functioning and the presence of pathological personality traits. To diagnose avoidant personality disorder, the following criteria must be met:

A. Significant impairments in personality functioning manifest by:

  1. Impairments in self functioning (1 or 2):
    1. Identity: Low self-esteem associated with self-appraisal socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior; excessive feelings of shame or inadequacy.
    2. Self-direction: Unrealistic standards for behavior associated with reluctance to pursue goals, take personal risks, or engage in new activities involving interpersonal contact.

AND

  1. Impairments in interpersonal functioning (1 or 2):
    1. Empathy: Preoccupation with, and sensitivity to, criticism or rejection, associated with distorted inference of others’ perspectives as negative.
    2. Intimacy: Reluctance to get involved with people unless being certain of being liked; diminished mutuality within intimate relationships because of fear of being shamed or ridiculed.

B. Pathological personality traits in the following domains:

  1. Detachment, characterized by:
    1. Withdrawal: Reticence in social situations; avoidance of social contacts and activity; lack of initiation of social contact.
    2. Intimacy avoidance: Avoidance of close or romantic relationships, interpersonal attachments, and intimate sexual relationships.
    3. Anhedonia: Lack of enjoyment from, engagement in, or energy for life’s experiences; deficits in the capacity to feel pleasure or take interest in things.
  2. Negative Affectivity, characterized by:
    1. Anxiousness: Intense feelings of nervousness, tenseness, or panic, often in reaction to social situations; worry about the negative effects of past unpleasant experiences and future negative possibilities; feeling fearful, apprehensive, or threatened by uncertainty; fears of embarrassment.

C. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are relatively stable across time and consistent across situations.

D. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are not better understood as normative for the individual’s developmental stage or socio-cultural environment.

E. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are not solely due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., severe head trauma).

While you can take a quick at home avoidant personality disorder test, you should see a Doctor or a qualified psychological professional to have your history and symptoms examined to officially confirm if you fit the criteria for avoidant personality disorder.

“Why Should I Care?” – What Happens if You DON’T Fix Your AvPD

There are so many responsibilities, issues, and things to tackle in life, that doing something like “getting rid of AvPD” and avoidant personality disorder treatment might be at the bottom of your list.

But:

That’s a dangerous and potentially life threatening mistake.

Here’s why:

  • You never solve the core wounds of thinking that you aren’t good enough and people are scary
  • You lose out on countless social opportunities, relationships, and potential memories
  • You miss out on having support around you, especially as you age, when social connection gets more challenging (it’s A LOT easier to meet people being a student in college versus a nearly retired professional)
  • You hide yourself from others and even from your own self, re-enforcing the belief that something is wrong with you
  • You cause yourself unnecessary stress and strain, resulting in premature aging, degeneration, and co-existing disorders (anxiety, stress, depression, anger,…)
  • You carry around poor self-confidence and self-esteem, making you less likely to pursue your goals, take on challenges, and project an attractive self
  • You take on unnecessarily high risk-aversion behaviors
  • You fear rejection…constantly

I Overcame Avoidant Personality Disorder. Even I Was Surprised About How My Life Changed

All right, so what are the superpowers you gain when you heal your AvPD? You hear so many avoidant personality disorder stories, but the true magic is what happens when you overcome it.

You’ll be able to:

  • Freely express yourself without feeling shame or insecurity
  • Feel happy and confident in who you are
  • Pursue romantic and friendly relationships
  • Understand that you can handle anything…no matter what happens
  • Set and maintain healthy boundaries
  • Say NO
  • Actively engage in conflict and issues from a place of non-neediness and empathy while respecting yourself

And the list goes on.

This will make you stronger, able to stand up for yourself, and not get dragged down by your thoughts. This is why it’s essential to learn how to stop being avoidant.

Sound good?

Let’s get into it:

Avoidant Personality Disorder Treatment Plan: Use These 5 Steps…

Simply put:

Fuck what other articles say.

There is such a thing as avoidant personality disorder treatment. There is NO REASON why you can’t start connecting more with others, yourself, and the world around you. There is treatment for avoidant personality disorder.

But:

It won’t be easy.

Speaking from personal experience, when you’ve operated with certain belief systems, that you’re bad, the world is dangerous, and the people out there are out to get you for years on end…

When you’ve practiced and hypnotized yourself in to believing these things…

It’s going to be difficult to change how you think and it won’t happen overnight.

But with time the changes will come, so long as you have a good plan.

Here is what I used and still use for AvPD treatment to push through my avoider tendencies:

1. Aggressively pursue therapy

If you hold these compulsive beliefs, you’ll need a very good therapist you trust to help you on the journey of avoidant personality disorder treatment.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do it on your own.

While having friends and a support system are also important (more on that later), I strongly encourage you to find a licensed health professional to help.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a great choice for a therapy type, because it specifically works on re-structuring poor belief systems, distorted thinking, and shows you how they relate to your emotions.

avpd-treatment

Image Source

how-to-stop-being-avoidant

Image Source

I also personally love hypnotherapy, which bypasses your conscious barriers and gets right to your sub-conscious memories and programming, where all the stored trauma sits. If you can access, cleanse, and learn to work with that, you address the past. Until you address the past, you will re-manifest it in to the present, and always have the same future.

This is also why you might notice the same thing happening over and over in your life, and wonder if there’s something wrong with you.

There’s nothing wrong with you, there’s an issue with your beliefs. Change those, and watch your life change.

Establishing a regular meditation practice alongside therapy is also extremely helpful, allowing you to monitor and watch your thoughts and emotions. You’ll be able to analyze, dissect, and listen to them. Looking into the benefits of a Vipassana meditation retreat can be a great start.

Now:

Don’t be afraid to try different therapists: See if they have free consultations. I always felt more comfortable with same-gender therapists (e.g., I’m a guy, so I always go to see male therapists), but do whatever works for you.

Don’t rush.

2. Use progressive desensitization to gradually overcome your fears

One of the issues that might frustrate you is that people might say:

“You should just get over yourself.”

“Why are you so shy?”

“What’s wrong with you?”

Yeah, that’s REALLY helpful.

Well:

I’m going to ACTUALLY give you a tool that you can use to make progress in avoidant personality disorder treatment.

Something where you can control how fast you go, and progressively face your fears of socializing, commitment, and intimacy.

It’s called progressive desensitization.

Now:

If you’ve been around this site a while you’ve probably heard me mention this before. It’s a common tool backed by decades of research in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

In short, many people try to push themselves into getting over a fear once, like jumping into the deep end of the pool.

This feels exhilarating, but it usually just comes back.

The way to really get over things is to slowly increase the “zone of comfort” by stretching yourself ever so slightly each time you do something.

By increasing this comfort zone, what you did before doesn’t seem so bad and you can keep going in small steps.

treatment-for-avoidant-personality-disorder

Image Source

Building a ramp helps expand your “comfort zone” by reaching into the “stretch zone”. Here, this is where you push yourself slightly, so that the comfort zone circle expands. You also stay away from the “panic zone” where you’ve pushed too much, and start getting stressed out, angry, and tense.

This is why progressive desensitization is also called “building a ramp”.

For example, let’s say you want to work up to approaching people at a social event and getting their contact information. This could be for a potential date, business connection, and otherwise.

Here’s a sample ramp you could use:

  1. Ask someone for the time
  2. Ask someone when the event ends
  3. Say hi to someone and ask how their day was
  4. Say hi to someone saying you wanted to talk to them
  5. Say hi to someone and get their number for hanging out/a date

You can add as many steps as you want to the ramp to make the difficulty increase as slowly as you want. You could also spread it out over multiple events, and days.

The point is to slowly face your fears and push yourself past your limits…instead of complaining, moping, or giving in to negativity.

And even worse:

Stagnating and staying the same.

Yes, it sucks you have to deal with these issues.

Yes, it sucks that for everyone else it’s easier.

So, what are you going to do about it now?

3. Find friends, support groups, and safe people

Here’s the truth:

Avoiders deal with a lot of shame. They think something is inherently wrong with them, and nobody could ever love them.

Maybe you just felt a punch in your stomach after reading that saying, “Yeah, I feel that.

Don’t worry,

It’s OK.

The less you talk about the things you think will cause shame or people to not like you, the more shame you’ll have. If you think something is inherently wrong with you and hide it, you’re reinforcing the belief that you are bad.

The solution is to openly express the things you think are weird, bad, or wrong to safe people.

So, who are these safe people?

These are a carefully curated list you’ve put together of non-judgemental people who will listen, emphasize, and support you.

Once they can re-affirm that you are OK, that the things you thought were weird aren’t that bad, or that they deal with the EXACT SAME THINGS, you’ll feel 1000% better. You can then work on sharing those things with others.

The most common example of a safe person is a good therapist. But, if you don’t have the money for one, supportive friends, family, mentors, religious clergy, etc., are more than able to be safe people too. I would say safe people are one of the most important steps in avoidant personality disorder treatment that really helped me.

This is especially important for men who have a fear of relationships and intimacy to start getting to the roots of what is causing them to shrink away.

The point is to find people who won’t tell you that you SHOULD be different. They should say that it is OK to feel what you are feeling, and be who you are.

There is nothing wrong with you. You are OK.

is-avoidant-personality-disorder-curable

4. Instill in your mind that you have WAY more courage than anyone else this is easy for, and no matter what happens, YOU WILL BE OK

Pain is inevitable in life, suffering is optional.

– Haruki Murakami

Many people who suffer from the avoider mentality don’t want to try and change because change…

  • Is scary
  • Involves potential rejection and embarrassment
  • Is difficult — it’s easier to stay where you are

But you wouldn’t be reading this article if you didn’t want to change.

If something inside you said you WANT to feel better.

You WANT to be happier.

The most successful people in life develop extreme amounts of courage, strength, and resilience. They are able to do “risky” things because they know that even if something goes wrong, they’ll eventually bounce back from it and be OK.

This is the most powerful and fundamentally important belief you need to repeat to yourself every day, for the rest of your life.

Everyone goes through shit in life, it’s just how you respond to it that defines you as a person.

Life is 20% the events that happen to you, and 80% your interpretation and reaction to them.

You will be OK – no matter what happens.

5. Speak to your Doctor about possible medication

While there is no documentation or supporting evidence about medication that specifically treats AvPD, some medication may help your symptoms of co-occuring disorders, such as anxiety and depression. However, there is no specific avoidant personality disorder medication.

Full disclosure: I am inherently personally biased against medication as I feel that it can cloud the actual issues going on in your life, and prevent you from tackling them. They treat symptoms and not the root causes.

However, I also know that in certain times, it’s good to have them to use. Medication can also be a great tool to calm your mind down to the point where you can use therapy and other tools to fix the issues in your life, then taper off of them.

You can also look into supplements that help with low moods, such as reading some Phenibut reviews (a supplement which works very well with anxiety and negative thinking).

However, let me stress again that medication and supplements are not permanent solutions to your underlying issues. You need to actually be taking action on the things that are bothering you in your life and working on your issues with therapy. Emotions exist for a reason and pull you to what you’re meant for in your life.

Speak with your Doctor or psychological professional about your options, the benefits, and the potential issues with using medication and supplements for avoidant personality disorder treatment.

How to Re-frame Common Negative Thoughts and Beliefs Avoidants Have

Avoidants suffer from similar thought patterns. Because of this, we can use CBT to re-frame and orient thoughts from being skewed and warped, to being far more accurate.

Whenever you hear these thoughts come up, address and re-frame them with the more accurate version.

Here are some examples:

Warped AvPD ThoughtMoving to More Accurate Thought
“I’m totally worthless and can’t do anything right.”“I’m constantly working on myself, I definitely have something worthwhile to give.”
“Nobody likes me.”“I have friends and family, and have seen people love and support me!”
“It’s pointless to try.”“You know I’m not sure if this will work out, but I hope it does. Even if it doesn’t, I know I’ll feel better that I gave it a shot. It might not go perfectly, but it’s better than sitting here doing nothing! At least I’ll learn something!”

The more you can catch these “warped thoughts” and analyze if they are actually true or not, the better you’ll feel.

Conclusion

Remember:

You CAN treat and overcome avoidant personality disorder and your avoider tendencies. It just will take time, patience, commitment, love, and support.

You’ve built up psychological and emotional habits over years that have kept you safe up to this point.

Now, it’s time to learn some healthier options.

Now, it’s time to enjoy life.

Now, it’s time to fully and truly love yourself.

How Can I Use This Information to Help Myself or Someone I Know?

I created a free checklist that you can use to quickly see how much you or someone you are thinking of is affected by avoidant personality disorder.

download-avoider-mentality-checklist

The checklist contains the 9 most common traits to look out for.

…and how identifying and working through them can lead to more intimacy, connection, closeness, and most importantly – happiness in your life and relationships.

Enter your e-mail below to download the free checklist and get started on avoidant personality disorder treatment:

Comments 2

  1. Hello, I’ve been aware of AVPD for some time now. I believe my wife is AVPD. We’ve tried Marriage counseling, sex therapy, Emotional Focused Therapy and no one seems to understand AVPD. Where can we find a good Therapist that treats this disorder?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Travis,

      It can take a while and a lot of trial and error as you’re experiencing, unfortunately .

      I’ve found that the best therapists are EXTREMELY patient and empathetic, while also creating action plans to overcome the tendencies (versus just talking about things).

      With therapy, you’ll know when you “click” with someone, and feel like you’re actually making progress. It also assumes though, that your wife is on board and WANTS to fix her issues.

      If she’s not on board, no therapist can help – she needs to be 100% in. Have a talk with her first to make sure she really wants to get over her AvPD.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Answer the following question to prove that you aren't a robot. * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.