All About Avoidant Personality Disorder and How to Overcome it with Psychological Therapy & Counselling


What is Avoidant Personality Disorder?

Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD) is a mental disorder characterised by excessive social anxiety and inhibition, a fear of intimacy, strong feelings of inadequacy or inferiority and a strong reliance on using avoidance and safety behaviours to defend against perceived threats to the self.

Those affected by avoidant personaility disorder display very high sensitivity to being negatively evaluated by others believing that they are likely to be rejected due to a lack of social skills.

Paradoxically, AvPD sufferers usually have a deep seated desire for social connection but fear that they are inept at nurturing it.

Typically, sufferers tend to be highly selective and cautious about building social connections and will not commit unless they can be absolutely sure that they won’t be rejected.

This can often lead to relationships being abandoned pre-emptively because of the fear of inevitable rejection.

In a sense this is a case of reject them before they reject you”.

Avoidant personality disorder affects men and woman in approximately equal numbers.


Avoidant Personality Disorder Symptoms

The main symptoms associated with Avoidant Personality Disorder are:

  • Pre-occupation with own shortcomings.
  • Reluctance to form relationships.
  • Inability to recognise their own positive traits.
  • A preference to be alone.
  • A sense of being unworthy.
  • Attachment related anxiety.
  • Feelings of abandonment.
  • Alcohol or drug abuse (as coping strategies)

Many of these symptoms can be linked to childhood avoidant attachment styles that have remained constant into adulthood.

Psychiatric Diagnosis for Avoidant Personality Disorder

Diagnosis of Avoidant Personality Disorder

Technically, only a psychiatrist can diagnose an Avoidant Personality Disorder, but in the UK general practitioners have tended to diagnose mental health problems by using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

The DSM lists specific symptoms against a range of disorders and whenever a person meets this criteria, they are said to be suffering from that disorder.

Diagnostic procedures do NOT make use of medical testing (for example blood tests) in order to produce a diagnosis, but rather is an opinion based on the observation of certain behaviours in the person who is suffering.

Because of this lack of verifiable medical testing, diagnosis remains a controversial subject, particularly within the psychological (non-medical) community.

However, in the UK access to support services is often contingent on receiving a diagnosis, so in this sense, a formal diagnosis may be useful.

Avoidant Personality Disorder sufferer in therapy session

Counselling for Avoidant Personality Disorder

We offer a number of different types of therapy and counselling for Avoidant Personality Disorder and related problems.

Choosing the most suitable therapy depends on a number of different considerations including factors such as:

  • How long you have had the problem.
  • Your personal preferences.
  • How your problem is affecting you today.

You can read more about the different types of therapy for Avoidant Personality Disorder on the following links:

Although all therapies use slightly different approaches, the one thing they all have in common is the relationship that is formed between the client and therapist.

Research suggests that this therapy relationship may be the most important factor in achieving a good therapy outcome.

The behaviour change framework

Behaviour Change Framework – BCF

All of our counselling sessions and programmes are enhanced by applying the Behaviour Change Framework (BCF).

This scientifically proven protocol clearly defines the incremental stages of behaviour change that you need to go through in order to achieve long lasting and sustainable change.

Drawn from the Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change (TTM), the framework provides a roadmap that not only gauges the current stage of progression through the change process, but also indicates if more change is required before entering the next phase of therapy or coaching.

In this way, we are able to ensure that you get the best possible level of support in overcoming your problems as well as ensuring that we don’t terminate the change process prematurely.

You can read more about the Science of Change here.

Free initial consultations for Avoidant Personality Disorder

Arrange your FREE initial consultation here.

If you’d like to find out more about avoidant personality disorder or recovering from any of your mental health problems then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.

During this consultation we will discuss your particular issues and the different types of mental health counselling we offer (including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT) without you having to commit to any counselling going forward.

The consultation lasts around 50 minutes and is a great opportunity to meet with either Paul or Joan and decide if you would like to proceed with any support.

Getting a Mental Health Diagnosis

Please be aware that Lee Psychology do not diagnose mental health disorders.

Our psychological counselling services do not require you to have been formally diagnosed but should you wish to obtain a formal mental health diagnosis, then please contact your GP who can arrange it for you.

Psychiatry Through the Looking Glass

Read what the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) and the United Nations (U.N.) said recently about the biomedical models of mental illness on Psychology Today.

W.H.O. and U.N. Join Calls to Transcend the Medical Model


Applied Psychology Solutions

If you’d like to learn how to overcome Avoidant Personality Disorder but dislike the idea of having “therapy”, then why not learn how to change the way you make sense of your experiences with the CORE Programme.

If you believe that your problems are the result of what has happened to you and not because there is something wrong with you, then this is the solution you’ve been looking for.

Counselling Locations

We offer counselling for Avoidant Personality Disorder for people living in:

  • Wombourne
  • Wolverhampton
  • West Midlands
  • Shropshire
  • South Staffordshire
  • Telford
  • Shrewsbury

You can also access our services around the World using online therapy with Paul.

Not Ready to Commit to Therapy Quite Yet?

Then why not see if you can solve your own problems using our comprehensive, Online Self-Help CBT course.


Written especially for people who prefer not to engage with a therapist before doing everything they can to overcome their problems.

Mirroring our in-house course of CBT, it contains everything that you need to know to tackle mental health challenges for only £149.