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Understanding Teen Avoidance Behaviors: Signs and Treatment


teen avoidance

Adolescence is an incredibly challenging time in a young person’s life. There are a myriad of unavoidable challenges and difficult lessons that teens must endure. Further, every person, regardless of age has fears and experiences bouts of anxiety. Most young people develop various coping mechanisms to effectively manage their anxiety and fears. It is highly common for young people to want to avoid facing reality at some point during their adolescence. For many these feelings are fleeting. Teenage avoidance behaviors, also known as avoidance coping, is defined by the American Psychological Association as a maladaptive “strategy for managing a stressful situation in which a person does not address the problem directly but instead disengages from the situation and averts attention from it.” Avoidance behaviors are more complicated than a teenager trying to get out of something they do not want to do. Avoidance behaviors can be debilitating, as they often interfere with one’s ability to function in his or her daily life. 

Signs of Teen Avoidance

Every teenager is different and young people struggling with avoidance disorders each have the propensity to exhibit avoidance behaviors distinctly. The National Social Anxiety Center provide the following examples that could indicate a teen is struggling with an avoidance disorder:

  • Persistent fears of being socially inferior 
  • Extremely vulnerable to any kind of criticism from others
  • Goes to excessive lengths to avoid interacting with others
  • Low self-esteem and self-worth
  • Undergoing elaborate ways to avoid fears and phobias
  • Does not express opinions, thoughts, beliefs in front of others

If your teen exhibits any combination of the above signs, it may behoove you to obtain the guidance of a mental health professional and discuss treatment options for your teen. 

Treatment for Teen Avoidance

There are a plethora of treatment options available for teens that exhibit debilitating avoidance behaviors. The first step to take is to bring your teen to their primary care physician, they will be able to either provide a diagnosis themselves, or direct you to a professional who can help further. At Pacific Teen Treatment, we offer a residential treatment program that utilizes a variety of therapeutic approaches. 

The treatment modalities that are used at Pacific Teen Treatment include, but are not limited to: talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), expressive arts therapy and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Through DBT a resident will have the opportunity to learn mindfulness-based skills to help regulate his or her emotions, by focusing on living in the present moment. CBT is a goal-based therapy that works by using a problem-solving approach to change thinking patterns and unhealthy behavioral patterns. Talk therapy is held both individually and in a group setting. Pacific Teen Treatment works with each of its residents to create a tailored and unique treatment plan, catering specifically to each teen’s personal needs. 

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at

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