How to manage maladaptive behavior?

This blog answers: How to manage maladaptive behavior? What are the examples of maladaptive behavior?

How to manage maladaptive behavior?

Some tips to manage maladaptive behavior are as follows: 

Reorganization of the mind

Reorganization of the mind is commonly known as cognitive restructuring. Negative ideas should be replaced with more healthy, happy ones that lessen the impact of real or imagined occurrences. 

To challenge erroneous thoughts, there are Cognitive Restructuring Worksheets available which use the method of Socratic questioning, which is two people asking each other a series of open, focused questions. 

There is also a process of decatastrophization where a person is guided through the process of deconstructing a ‘catastrophe’ using five questions.

Interruption or distraction  

When confronted with a stressful scenario, one can use music, breathing techniques, writing down thoughts, meditation, and other methods to divert oneself from bad impulses.

These approaches can help to relax you while diverting your attention away from the source of your stress which gradually leads to maladaptive behavior.

Stopping the thought

Stopping panic from escalating and the domino impact of negative thoughts can be as simple as interrupting or halting the loop of negative ideas as they arise. 

Work with clients to develop a strategy for interrupting negative thoughts. It could be saying stop out loud or in their heads for some, or snapping an elastic band on the wrist for others.

Self Compassion 

In her book Rewire Your Mind, Shauna Shapiro explains two popular but poor coping methods. When faced with a hardship, we frequently respond by focusing on our shame or boosting our self-esteem.

Both are ineffective in assisting us in coping; instead, we should adopt a self-compassion perspective. We look at ourselves with shame and condemnation. We try to stimulate change inside ourselves by examining our flaws and deficiencies.

It’s not going to work. Instead, it causes the release of stress hormones, cortisol, and norepinephrine, which have a negative biological response. 

They rob us of our cognitive flexibility and learning potential. While some self-help literature claims that self-esteem is critical to our resilience and happiness, others argue that it is not. 

Self-compassion, on the other hand, is like your canine companion. It looks at you and says, “No matter what, you’re worthy”. 

If we wish to break the cycle of making the same mistakes, we must learn from them. Self-compassion generates oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that helps us build new connections while reducing suffering and increasing emotions of safety.

Statements about coping

Creating a collection of coping statements can assist a client in facing obstacles. They can be repeated and utilized to frame the client’s anxieties and issues in a more positive light once they’ve been put down.

For instance using: I’m going to take on this task and do my best to meet it, I’ve been in a similar circumstance previously and made it out alive, whatever happens, I’m strong enough to manage it, things aren’t always as horrible as they appear can be used as coping statements.

Positive remarks repeated again and over can have a tremendous impact on the client’s state of mind and level of preparedness for what is to come.


It is discovered that confronting obstacles with an open mind leads to better stress management, creative solutions to existing problems, and a higher ability to cope.

The Doors Closed, Doors Open exercise can prompt people to consider a period when they felt rejected (doors closed) and the chances that came as a result (doors open). 

They can then reflect on their experiences to figure out what kept them from identifying opportunities and what they learned as a result.


Consider completing more tasks in the same amount of time and creating your best work more frequently. That is the flow’s potential.

Our dysfunctional coping techniques are frequently more harmful than helpful. When it comes to employment, finding that sweet spot might be beneficial. 

Flow is the “feeling of everything fitting together” and being our best selves. We reach our peak focus and produce our best work while engrossed in an experience, and probably most crucially, we like it.


In extreme cases, people can also consider therapy options for their maladaptive behavior such as cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, or even medication that is prescribed by the health care practitioner. 

What are the examples of maladaptive behavior?

Some examples of maladaptive behavior are: 

  • Withdrawal 
  • Avoidance 
  • Passive aggressiveness 
  • Maladaptive daydreaming 
  • Substance use 
  • Anger 
  • Self-harm 


We all have times when we avoid situations or things that we know will be difficult or uncomfortable. We put it off because we believe it will have little impact on our physical or mental health, but we know it must be done eventually. 

Delaying may even be the best course of action in certain cases. When our avoidant inclinations prevent us from living a full and true life, though, we can seek assistance.

Whether we establish maladaptive coping techniques early in life or later in life, they are not permanent. We have an amazing potential to change as humans; our brain’s neuroplasticity allows us to replace unhelpful or harmful behavior with something that promotes growth and optimism.

It’s critical to assist individuals in recognizing their maladaptive behaviors and comprehending the harm they produce. Work with them to identify ineffective strategies, then replace them with more appropriate techniques that meet their psychological requirements and allow them to live a more fulfilling life.

Frequently asked questions: How to manage maladaptive behavior?


What is the definition of maladaptive behavior?

Maladaptive behaviors limit your ability to respond to situations in a healthy way. In essence, they make it difficult for you to adjust to and cope with life’s expectations and responsibilities.

What does it mean to have a maladaptive coping mechanism?

Self-harm, binge eating, and substance addiction are examples of maladaptive coping that exacerbate stress and anxiety. The more maladaptive behavior a patient exhibits, the greater the probability of their condition persisting or worsening.

Is it possible that maladaptive behavior is a symptom of a mental illness?

While the presence of a mental illness does not appear to be linked to levels of cognitive functioning, maladaptive conduct, particularly self-injurious and stereotyped behavior is.