Coping stategies

Types of coping strategiesEdit

Hundreds of coping strategies have been identified.[6] Classification of these strategies into a broader architecture has not yet been agreed upon. Common distinctions are often made between various contrasting strategies, for example: problem-focused versus emotion-focused; engagement versus disengagement; cognitive versus behavioral. The psychology textbook by Weiten identifies three broad types of coping strategies:[1]

  • appraisal-focused: Directed towards challenging one's own assumptions, adaptive cognitive
  • problem-focused: Directed towards reducing or eliminating a stressor, adaptive behavioral
  • emotion-focused: Directed towards changing one's own emotional reaction

Appraisal-focused strategies occur when the person modifies the way they think, for example: employing denial, or distancing oneself from the problem. People may alter the way they think about a problem by altering their goals and values, such as by seeing the humor in a situation: "some have suggested that humor may play a greater role as a stress moderator among women than men".[7]

People using problem-focused strategies try to deal with the cause of their problem. They do this by finding out information on the problem and learning new skills to manage the problem. Problem-focused coping is aimed at changing or eliminating the source of the stress. The three problem-focused coping strategies identified by Folkman and Lazarus are taking control, information seeking, and evaluating the pros and cons.

Emotion-focused strategies involve releasing pent-up emotions, distracting oneself, managing hostile feelings, meditating or using systematic relaxation procedures. Emotion-focused coping "is oriented toward managing the emotions that accompany the perception of stress".[8] The five emotion-focused coping strategies identified by Folkman and Lazarus[9] are disclaiming, escape-avoidance, accepting responsibility or blame, exercising self-control, and positive reappraisal. Emotion-focused coping is a mechanism to alleviate distress by minimizing, reducing, or preventing, the emotional components of a stressor.[10] This mechanism can be applied through a variety of ways, such as seeking social support, reappraising the stressor in a positive light, accepting responsibility, using avoidance, exercising self-control, and distancing.[11] [12] The focus of this coping mechanism is to change the meaning of the stressor or transfer attention away from it.[13]For example, reappraising tries to find a more positive meaning of the cause of the stress in order to reduce the emotional component of the stressor. Avoidance of the emotional distress will distract from the negative feelings associated with the stressor. Emotion-focused coping is well suited for stressors that seem uncontrollable (ex. a terminal illness diagnosis, or the loss of a loved one).[14] Some mechanisms of emotion focused coping, such as distancing or avoidance, can have alleviating outcomes for a short period of time, however they can be detrimental when used over an extended period. Positive emotion-focused mechanisms, such as seeking social support, and positive re-appraisal, are associated with beneficial outcomes.[15]

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