1. Home
  2.  → 
  3. Psychology
  4.  → Safety Behaviours

Safety Behaviours & Why They’re Useless!

What are Safety Behaviours and Why are They Problematic?

safety behaviours in emetophobia - woman avoiding food

Within the context of psycho-pathpology, safety behaviours are any ‘strategy’ or set of behavioural activities that are believed to keep a person ‘safe’. Safety behaviours are also known as ‘avoidance strategies‘ as they will frequently involve avoiding situations that are believed to lead to fear or anxiety.

The problem with these safety behaviours is that in almost all cases, the outcome of safety or avoidance strategies is an INCREASE in the level of Anxiety and Stress rather than a reduction, which is the main reason that people ‘deploy’ them in the first place.

In this sense, safety behaviours are paradoxical in that you get the opposite of what you planned!

Your solution to the problem IS the problem!

Yes, that’s right. In the vast majority of cases it is the conscious effort that goes into avoiding any particular problem or situation that creates the anxiety rather than the situation you are avoiding.

The more time and effort you spend avoiding the unpalatable situation, the more likely you are to experience raised level of anxiety and stress.

Safety Behaviours – An Example from Emetophobia

Emetophobia is the fear of vomiting and ’causes’ the sufferer to develop very high levels of anxiety in situations where they believe that they increase the risk of feeling nauseous.

These types of situations will frequently involve things like:

  • Avoiding alcoholic drinks – drunk people are often sick
  • Avoiding close contact with young children – young kids tend to be more ‘germy’
  • Avoid friends and colleagues who might have felt or been sick in the last few days
  • Avoid pregnancy due the the probability of ‘morning sickness’
  • Avoid taking any medication that might have the side-effect of nausea

and so on.

On first meeting with an Emetophobia sufferer most will agree that they have not actually been sick for a number of years and aside from the obvious question of why a person would become highly anxious about something that has not happened to them for many years, I will usually ask them WHY they think they haven’t been sick for such a prolonged period of time.

Emetophobes will invariably report that the reason they haven’t been sick for so long is due to the success of all of the safety behaviours that they carry out! In this way, it is clear that what they are doing is making a fairly solid logical case for continuing all of their avoidance strategies.

However, when asked if their general level of anxiety has therefore reduced over these last few years they will almost always state that their anxiety has actually INCREASED rather than reduced.

This is the paradox of safety behaviours. They might be successfully avoiding being sick, but their day-to-day level of anxiety has become worse, much worse, in fact, than just being sick for 10 seconds or so could ever produce. Surely, this is not a successful outcome!

However, if it is suggested that the best way to reduce their anxiety is to actually STOP avoiding those ‘risky’ situations, then their reaction is almost one of ‘horror’ at the idea of not carrying out their safety behaviours – after all, those avoidance strategies are keeping them free of anxiety aren’t they?

I hope you can see that the main reason these people are suffering high levels of anxiety has very little to do with actually being sick, but much more to do with all of the time and effort they put into ‘avoiding’ the situations that they believe will definitely make them sick and therefore anxious.

Stopping Safety Behaviours is the Solution

In order to reduce anxiety and stress, safety behaviours really do need to be eliminated. They are the CAUSE of the anxiety and not the solution.

safety behaviours are self imposed limitations - limitations road sign

This, of course, is the most difficult problem to confront because the sufferer truly believes that their safety behaviours are EFFECTIVE and worthwhile, but if they can, through a structured programme of awareness and education, learn to gain a greater perspective over the relative risks of their ‘exposure’ then they can start to solve the problem in a systematic and sustainable way.

Transform Your Thinking & Drop Safety Behaviours

transform your thinking and overcome XXX in wolverhampton - transform thinking banner

If you’re committed to modifying your safety behvaiours then we highly recommend following either our Advanced Tranceformental CBT programme with Paul, or Joan.

Tranceformental CBT is available as Online Therapy if required

The Tranceformental programme is a highly successful & pragmatic psychological training course, run over 10 sessions, that will teach you everything you need to know to understand your problem, identify how unhelpful thinking and limiting beliefs might be reinforcing the issue, and then show you how to make any changes to your unhelpful thinking styles or maladaptive safety behaviours that you may have developed as part of your coping strategies.

Our Tranceformental CBT programme is an evidence-based, research supported approach used by mental health practitioners around the World.

Initial Consultations for Changing Safety Behaviours

free initial consultations image - choose your own path

We offer all prospective clients an initial consultation to discuss your unhelpful safety behaviours prior to commencing any treatment plans.

The consultation is free and last around 50 minutes

Why not drop us an e-mail to find out if we can help before arranging your initial assessment or, if you prefer, leave us a message on our Facebook page: facebook.com/tranceformational/ and we’ll get back to you to arrange a mutual date and time.




During this consultation we will discuss the various options that are available to you and make a considered recommendation based on your individual personal circumstances.

Initial consultations are also available as part of our online therapy service.

At TranceForm Psychology we recognise the importance of the therapeutic relationship in helping people to bring about effective change, so its important to be able to ‘meet’ to discuss our change programmes BEFORE proceeding.

Our policy is to help people make a fully balanced & considered decision about undertaking work with us, including both the financial and personal implications.

For most mental health problems we recommend following our 10 session Tranceformental CBT Programme (an advanced version of empirically established cognitive behavioural therapy) to overcome a wide range of mental health and behavioural problems.

CBT is a proven, evidence-based form of mental health counselling for developing a fundamental understanding of the dynamics of your problem, but also for learning new coping skills and strategies for sustainable change over your life.

The full course costs £795 which you can pay for on our fees page.

Tranceformental CBT is available On-line as well as a one-to-one format in the clinic.

Visit Online Counselling for more details.

online counselling tranceform psychology wolverhampton

Contact Paul Lee BSc. MSc.

Read about Paul

paul lee in tenerife forest

I specialise in the following areas:

Tranceformental CBT

Life Coaching

Psychodynamic Therapy

Call me on 07434 776125

e-mail:

paul@tranceformpsychology.com

Contact Joan Lee D. Hyp.

Read about Joan

I specialise in the following therapies:

Hypnotherapy

Brain Working Recursive Therapy

Analytical Therapy

I also offer a complete programme which combines mindfulness, mediation and hypnotherapy-

Complete Wellness Programme

Call Joan on: 07434 776504

e-mail:

joan@tranceformpsychology.com

Want to Find Out More? Then Get in Touch Today.

TRANCEFORM LTD.

Maypole House
Yew Tree Court
Maypole Street
Wombourne
Wolverhampton
WV5 9JB

E-mail TranceForm

Mobile Paul: 07434 776125
Mobile Justina: 07880 491106
Mobile Joan: 07434 776504

tranceform psychology services wolverhampton

AFFILIATIONS

hcpc badge
IAEBP logo

PRACTICE LOCATION

tranceform psychology mental health counselling headquarters in wombourne west midlands

Private Mental Health Counselling, Online Counselling & Applied Psychology in Wolverhampton, Wombourne, West Midlands, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire, Dudley, Kingswinford, Bridgnorth, Telford, Shrewsbury, West Bromwich and Birmingham since 2009.

2021 Celebrating 12 Years of Mental Health Service in West Midlands & Shropshire

© TranceForm Psychology 2009 - 2021 | Website Design by Paul

ONLINE COUNSELLING

Our online therapy sessions are conducted using Zoom secure connections and last around one hour.

Single sessions of mental health counselling cost £90 and our 10 session Tranceformental CBT programme is £795.

For more information e-mail: paul@tranceformpsychology.com

What Our Clients Say

CLIENT REVIEWS

VIDEO REVIEWS

NHS REVIEWS

Courses, Sessions and Payments

PURCHASE A COURSE OF THERAPY

SPECIAL DISCOUNT FOR NHS STAFF

ON-GOING SUPPORT OPTIONS

About Tranceform Psychology

ABOUT PAUL LEE BSc. MSc.

Paul Lee BSc MSc Tranceform Psychology

ABOUT JOAN LEE D. HYP.

Joan Lee DHP MIAEBP Tranceform Psychology

ABOUR DR. JUSTINA SOMAL

Dr. Justina Somal BPS