Avoidant Personality Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis #avoidant #personality


Avoidant Personality Disorder

Who is at risk of avoidant personality disorder?

There is no way to know who will develop APD. People who have the disorder are typically very shy as children. However, not every child who is shy goes on to develop the disorder. Likewise, not every adult who is shy has the disorder.

If you have APD, your shyness most likely grew as you got older. It may have gotten to the point that you began avoiding other people and certain situations.

How is avoidant personality disorder diagnosed?

Your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional who will ask you questions to determine if you have APD. To be diagnosed with APD, your symptoms must begin no later than early adulthood.

You must also show at least four of the following characteristics:

  • You avoid work activities that involve contact with others. This is due to fear of criticism, disapproval, or rejection.
  • You’re unwilling to get involved with other people unless you’re sure they like you.
  • You hold back in relationships because you’re afraid you’ll be ridiculed or humiliated.
  • The fear of being criticized or rejected in social situations dominates your thoughts.
  • You hold back or completely avoid social situations because you feel inadequate.
  • You think you’re inferior to others, unappealing, and inept.
  • You’re unlikely to take part in new activities or to take personal risks because you’re afraid of embarrassment.

How is avoidant personality disorder treated?

Psychotherapy is the most effective treatment for APD. Your therapist may use psychodynamic psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. The goal of therapy is to help you identify your unconscious beliefs about yourself and how others see you. It also aims to help you function better socially and at work.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy

Psychodynamic therapy is a form of talk therapy. It helps you become aware of your unconscious thoughts. It can help you understand how past experiences influence your current behavior. This allows you to examine and resolve past emotional pains and conflicts. Then you can move forward with a healthier outlook about yourself and how others see you. Psychodynamic psychotherapy produces lasting results with benefits that continue after treatment.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is another form of talk therapy. In CBT, a therapist helps you recognize and replace unhealthy beliefs and thought processes. Your therapist will encourage you to examine and test your thoughts and beliefs to see if they have a factual basis. They’ll also help you develop alternative, healthier thoughts.


The FDA hasn’t approved any medications to treat personality disorders. However, your doctor may prescribe antidepressant medications if you have co-occurring depression or anxiety.

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UBC s Graduate Program in Clinical Psychology s broad mission is to advance clinical science. We view clinical science as composed of research efforts and practice directed toward:

  1. The promotion of adaptive functioning
  2. Assessment, understanding, amelioration, and prevention of human problems in behaviour, affect, cognition or health
  3. The application of knowledge in ways consistent with scientific evidence

The program s emphasis on the term science underscores its commitment to empirical approaches to evaluating the validity and utility of testable hypotheses and to advancing knowledge and practice by this method.

The Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology is accredited by the Canadian Psychological Association. If you are interested in more information about our accreditation status, contact the Director of Clinical Training (Lynn Alden ) or:

Initial accreditation 1986-87
Next site visit due 2015-16

As of 2012, CPA and APA signed the First Street Accord which is a mutual recognition agreement on accreditation. It demonstrates that the APA views the accreditation standards and principles of the CPA as equivalent to the Commission on Accreditation guidelines and principles. View the statement .

This webpage presents an overview of important information about the clinical program. To fully understand the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at UBC, please read the material in all the links on this page and in the Graduate Student Handbook.