Different Categories of Safety Behaviors

Safety Behaviors have been categorized in many different ways. Some of the category systems have stuck around and are accepted by most researchers…others have not made the same splash. Like other safety behavior researchers, I have my own system for categorizing safety behaviors. There is nothing new or unique about my system, it just provides a mental frame work for organizing different safety behaviors, and thereby hopefully allowing for more recognition and insight into your safety behaviors. If you happen to read my treatment workbook on safety behaviors, the first chapter covers the different categories and examples in much more detail. Here is my safety behavior category system:

1) Checking and reassurance seeking*

2) Escape & evade behaviors

3) Attention safety behaviors (Vigilance, monitoring; worry, and planning)

4) Suppression

6) Withdrawal and avoidance*

7) alcohol/drugs/medications, companions and safety aids:

8) Impression management:

9) Rumination:

Those with an *asterisk can be both internal and external

All the categories of safety behaviors (with the exception of impression management – usually social anxiety) are typically seen in more than one condition.

Speaking in very broad and general terms, each category of safety behaviors can be thought to have the following function:

Checking and reassurance: To make ourselves feel better (reduce our anxiety)

Escape and evade: To limit contact with things/people that make us feel anxious

Attention safety behaviors: Keep us safe and prevent mistakes

Suppression: To reduce or not feel anxiety

Withdrawal and avoidance: prevent future anxiety or discomfort

Impression management: to incur positive favor with others

Rumination: To analyze or figure out current problems

I’d be interested in any feedback about ways to improve my categorization system

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