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Safety Behaviors Example

Safety behaviors are actions carried out with the intention of preventing a feared catastrophe. In the short-term they often give a sense of relief, but in the long-term they prove unhelpful. This information handout uses an example from the Simpsons to illustrate the essential misconception.

Safety-seeking behaviors are responses to feared catastrophes. While safety behaviors lead to powerful feelings of relief in the short term they can often have unintended long term effects. For example, they often have the effect of reinforcing beliefs about threat, or mean that beliefs don’t get challenged. This Safety Behaviors Example worksheet uses an example from the Simpsons to illustrate the kinds of thought processes which can lead to the development of safety behaviors.

This is a Psychology Tools information handout. Suggested uses include:

  • Client handout – use as a psychoeducation resource
  • Discussion point – use to provoke a discussion and explore client beliefs
  • Therapist learning tool – improve your familiarity with a psychological construct
  • Teaching resource – use as a learning tool during training
  • Salkovskis, P. M. (1991). The importance of behaviour in the maintenance of anxiety and panic: a cognitive account. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 19(1), 6-19.
  • Rachman, S., Radomsky, A. S., Shafran, R. (2008). Safety behaviour: A reconsideration. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 46(2), 163-173.

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