Mindfulness and experiential avoidance as predictors of posttraumatic stress disorder avoidance symptom severity

J Anxiety Disord. 2010 May;24(4):409-15. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2010.02.005. Epub 2010 Feb 20.


Mindfulness reflects an awareness of present moment experiences through an attitude of acceptance and openness (Bishop et al., 2004; Cardaciotto, Herbert, Forman, Moitra, & Farrow, 2008). Experiential avoidance, by contrast, refers to attempts to change, alter, or avoid private experiences (e.g., thoughts, feelings, sensations), and it is believed to underlie a number of psychopathologies, including PTSD (Hayes, Wilson, Gifford, Follette, & Strosahl, 1996). We were interested in the ability of mindfulness to predict the variance of PTSD avoidance symptom severity above and beyond experiential avoidance. 378 introductory psychology students were administered self-report measures of PTSD, mindfulness, experiential avoidance, thought suppression, alexithymia, and avoidant coping. Mindfulness, specifically nonjudgment of experiences, accounted for a unique portion of the variance in PTSD avoidance symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Avoidance Learning*
  • Awareness*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychological Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Young Adult