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Treatments for Avoidant Personality Disorder

The following treatment guidelines are meant as a reference tool only, and are not intended as treatment advice or to replace the clinical decision-making process of psychiatrists or other health professionals who administer these treatments. In clinical practice there are often good reasons why treatment approaches differ from what is described here.


There has not been much research looking into treatments designed specifically for Avoidant Personality Disorder. However, the approach for treating this disorder can follow the same principles as for treating Social Phobia [ref], given that these two conditions are similar. The two main forms of treatment available are psychotherapy and medications.

There have actually been a couple of studies that have examined the effects of psychotherapy for Avoidant Personality Disorder. One found that 20 sessions of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) brought some improvement in symptoms, and was superior to 20 sessions of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (PD) [ref]. Another study found that 40 sessions of CBT was equally effective to 40 sessions of PD [ref].

Given the chronic and persistent nature of Avoidant Personality Disorder, clinical experience would suggest that treatments would need to be long-term and that using a combination of psychotherapy and medications would probably be required.

See the Social Phobia guidelines for recommendations on when to consider using each of these different modalities; keep in mind that, in Step 1, at least 40 sessions of psychotherapy are recommended and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy could be included as a reasonable option.


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Course & Prevalence