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Experiential Avoidance and Psychopathology: A Unidimensional or Multidimensional Construct?

Objective: Experiential avoidance (EA), the avoidance of uncomfortable cognitions and emotions, is a significant factor in the onset and/or maintenance of a variety of maladaptive behaviours and psychopathologies. Also, EA has been recognised within most therapy approaches as a factor in the engagement of clients in therapy. However, measurement of EA is complicated by the diversity of its manifestations across a range of psychopathologies. The purpose of this study was to characterise EA as either a unidimensional or multidimensional construct as it applies to psychopathology and to evaluate its sensitivity to change during therapy.

Methods: In this study, 82 participants referred for psychological therapy to one of four mental health services, completed questionnaires measuring EA, thought control, and emotion control, at the start of therapy and again at follow-up three months later.

Results: Structural equation models (SEM) were able to capture the latent variable of EA and monitor change during therapy.

Conclusions: The results suggest that measures of EA are sensitive to change and also that EA is a multidimensional construct.


Mick Hunter

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