What are Maladaptive Behaviors and Triggers?

  • Maladaptive Behaviors: Behaviors that are harmful and/or prevent you from adapting to/managing situations in a healthy way.
  • Triggers: People, places, or things that leave us more vulnerable to maladaptive behavior use.
  • Coping Plan: Involves identifying potential triggers and problem-solving around them to avoid maladaptive behavior use.

Coping Ahead for triggers

We can’t anticipate every trigger we’ll encounter, but we can use our past as data for navigating the future. Coping ahead is one of the most useful skills to rely on in any form of recovery once you learn that it’s easier to prevent a maladaptive behavior from occurring in the first place rather than stop one in its tracks. What is something you want to commit to in preparation for a trigger? What is your plan for accountability? Use these reflective questions below to assist you in creating a Cope Ahead Plan specific to your triggers:

Trigger Times: People tend to engage in maladaptive behaviors around the same time(s) of day, same time(s) of the week, and/or same time(s) of the month/year. 

Is there a time of day that is most triggering for you? Are you more likely to rely on maladaptive behaviors on certain days of the week or at certain times of the year?

Trigger Behaviors: People tend to engage in certain patterns of behavior that elicit maladaptive behavior use and/or engage in certain patterns of behavior concurrently with maladaptive behavior use. 

Are there certain things that you do that tend to trigger maladaptive behavior use? Are there certain things that you do that you typically do concurrently with your maladaptive behaviors? 

Trigger Situations: People tend to engage in maladaptive behavior use after experiencing a specific situation(s).

In which situations are you the most vulnerable to using maladaptive behaviors? Are you more vulnerable to using maladaptive behaviors prior to or after being in these situations?

Trigger Feelings: People tend to experience similar feelings prior to engaging in maladaptive behaviors. 

What do you feel before you engage in a maladaptive behavior? Have you ever felt that feeling and not engaged in maladaptive behaviors? What did you do?

Trigger Thoughts: Individuals tend to experience similar thoughts prior to engaging in maladaptive behaviors.

What do you think before you engage in a maladaptive behavior? Have you ever had that thought and not engaged in maladaptive behaviors? What did you do?

“Between a stimulus and a response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”

Viktor Frankl

Article written by Bari Rothfeld, LCSW

Similar Posts