Basic Science and Clinical Application of the Contrast Avoidance Model in Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Newman, M. G., Llera, S. J., Erickson T. M. & Przeworski, A. (2014). Basic science and clinical application of the Contrast Avoidance Model in generalized anxiety disorder. Invited paper for Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 24(3), 155-167. doi:10.1037/a0037510

13 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2015 Last revised: 8 May 2019

See all articles by Michelle G. Newman

Michelle G. Newman

Pennsylvania State University - Department of Psychology

Sandra J. Llera

Towson University - Department of Psychology

Thane M. Erickson

Seattle Pacific University - Department of Psychology

Amy Przeworski

Case Western Reserve University - Department of Psychiatry

Date Written: January 25, 2015

Abstract

The Contrast Avoidance model (Newman & Llera, 2011) proposes that individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are excessively sensitive to negative emotional shifts (contrasts) in response to unpleasant events, and thus recruit a state of sustained intrapersonal negativity via worry as a defensive stance against such shifting states. Here we review the basic science related to environmental, psychological, and biological risk factors in the development of such emotional sensitivities in GAD, and present evidence supporting the position that worry and maladaptive interpersonal styles are employed as defensive strategies to protect against emotional contrasts. We present 2 case examples to elucidate these issues, as well as to introduce specific clinical recommendations for targeting and treating these behaviors. Suggestions for future avenues of research are also discussed.

Keywords: Avoidance, Emotions, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Models Risk Factors

Suggested Citation

Newman, Michelle G. and Llera, Sandra J. and Erickson, Thane M. and Przeworski, Amy, Basic Science and Clinical Application of the Contrast Avoidance Model in Generalized Anxiety Disorder (January 25, 2015). Newman, M. G., Llera, S. J., Erickson T. M. & Przeworski, A. (2014). Basic science and clinical application of the Contrast Avoidance Model in generalized anxiety disorder. Invited paper for Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 24(3), 155-167. doi:10.1037/a0037510. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2555292 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2555292

Michelle G. Newman (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University - Department of Psychology ( email )

University Park, PA
United States

Sandra J. Llera

Towson University - Department of Psychology ( email )

Towson, MD 21252
United States

Thane M. Erickson

Seattle Pacific University - Department of Psychology ( email )

Seattle, WA 98119
United States

Amy Przeworski

Case Western Reserve University - Department of Psychiatry ( email )

Cleveland, OH 44106
United States

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