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Approach Coping Responses

At AToN Center, a large portion of treatment is focusing on developing positive coping responses to life’s stressors that can precipitate relapse. So an important question to ask is: “What are the best types of coping responses?”

Recent research suggests that the most positive and beneficial coping responses are called “Approach Coping Responses.” These responses to distress are problem focused and reflect cognitive and behavioral efforts to master or resolve life stressors. There are four specific types of approach coping responses: Logical analysis, positive reappraisal, seeking guidance and support and problem solving.

Logical Analysis – attempts to understand and prepare mentally for a stressor and its consequences. An example of this would be brainstorming different ways to manage a problem, or taking a step back from the situation in an effort to be more objective.

Positive Reappraisal – Cognitive attempts to construe and restructure a problem in a positive way while still accepting the reality of a situation. An example of positive reappraisal would include reframing your thoughts into more rational responses or focusing on the “silver lining” in a situation.

Seeking Guidance and Support – Behavioral attempts to seek information, guidance or support. Examples of utilizing this coping skill would include discussing your problem with close friends or family – or doing research to understand more about your problem.

Problem Solving –Behavioral attempts to take action to deal directly with the problem. Utilizing this coping skill would entail making a plan of action and following it and/or focusing on separating your plan of action into smaller steps and taking things “one day at a time.”

Those who tend to utilize the above coping skills have been shown to have less anxiety, depression and substance use than those who utilize “Avoidance Coping Responses,” which are characterized as attempts to avoid thinking about stressors and avoid emotional responses associated with the stressor.

Please take some time to complete a self inventory and assess your typical responses to life’s difficult times. If you are not using “Approach Coping Responses,” begin incorporating them into your life and you may see improvements in your overall well being.

Cassandra Cannon, Ph.D.  
Licensed Clinical Health Psychologist and Clinical Director
AToN Center  888-535-1516

***A comprehensive review on research and coping responses can be found in the Coping Responses Inventory Professional Manual by Rudolf H. Moos, Ph.D. ***iv>