Relationships among adaptive and maladaptive emotion regulation strategies and psychopathology during the treatment of comorbid anxiety and alcohol use disorders

Laren R. Conklin, Clair Cassiello-Robbins, C. Alex Brake, Shannon Sauer-Zavala, Todd J. Farchione, Domenic A. Ciraulo, David H. Barlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Both maladaptive and adaptive emotion regulation strategies have been linked with psychopathology. However, previous studies have largely examined them separately, and little research has examined the interplay of these strategies cross-sectionally or longitudinally in patients undergoing psychological treatment. This study examined the use and interplay of adaptive and maladaptive emotion regulation strategies in 81 patients receiving cognitive-behavioral interventions for comorbid alcohol use and anxiety disorders. Patients completed measures of emotion regulation strategy use and symptoms of psychopathology pre- and post-treatment. Cross-sectionally, higher use of maladaptive strategies (e.g., denial) was significantly related to higher psychopathology pre- and post-treatment, whereas higher use of adaptive strategies (e.g., acceptance) only significantly related to lower psychopathology post-treatment. Prospectively, changes in maladaptive strategies, but not changes in adaptive strategies, were significantly associated with post-treatment psychopathology. However, for patients with higher pre-treatment maladaptive strategy use, gains in adaptive strategies were significantly associated with lower post-treatment psychopathology. These findings suggest that psychological treatments may maximize efficacy by considering patient skill use at treatment outset. By better understanding a patient's initial emotion regulation skills, clinicians may be better able to optimize treatment outcomes by emphasizing maladaptive strategy use reduction predominately, or in conjunction with increasing adaptive skill use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-130
Number of pages7
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by an NIAA grant ( R01 PA 98003 ) awarded to Domenic A. Ciraulo (Principal Investigator) and David H. Barlow (Investigator).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Adaptive and maladaptive emotion regulation strategies
  • Alcohol use disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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