What are coping Mechanisms?

What are coping Mechanisms?
August 16, 2021 1 Comment Mental health emmahjoy


Coping mechanism refers to the strategies used in handling a problematic situation, stress or trauma. The mind and body has been programmed to have ways to handle a situation. The situation could be negative for example dealing with grief, loss of a job, failure in exams or a positive perspective such as graduating from school, getting married, getting a new car.

Categories of coping

According to Algorani and Gupta(2021), Coping mechanisms are generally grouped into four classes that include the following:

  1. Emotion-Focused. The aim in this class is to reduce the negative emotions involved.
  2. Problem-focused. The coping strategies in this class tries to address a specified problem and develop relevant solutions.
  3. Social Coping. The strategy involved in this class is where the individual seeks their solution by engaging with other people around them. For example friends, family and neighbors.
  4. Meaning-focused. The focus of the individuals coping strategies is to find meaning in the situation at hand.

Examples of coping strategies

These could be either positive or negative depending on how the individual reacts to the situation.

Positive coping include;

  • Solving problems from their root cause
  • Immediate solving of the problems
  • Finding the positive aspect of the problem at hand

Activities for positive coping

  • Exercises i.e. yoga, meditation
  • listening to music
  • Reading
  • Engaging in a hobby
  • Talking and opening up to friends
  • Having alone time

Maladaptive coping refers to the coping strategies that result into negative mental health outcomes. These negative coping include:

  • Avoidance or Escape
  • Numbing or suppressing
  • Risk taking
  • self-harm

Examples are; kicking things, drinking, truancy, overeating, violent behaviors, yelling, starvation.

Coping mechanisms can also be further discussed based on their goals. For example;

Active Coping; is where the individual is aware of the coping mechanisms that they are using to handle a situation.

Avoidant coping; The individual might be aware of the stressful situation but they are not active in finding ways to solve the problem.


Algorani EB, Gupta V. Coping Mechanisms. [Updated 2021 May 3]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559031/

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    Differences Between Coping mechanism & Defense Mechanism – @Dailyinnerstrength

    […] purposefully in handling a problematic situation, stress or trauma.(See our previous article on coping mechanism) Whereas, Defense mechanisms are ways in which an individual’s mind deal with stressful […]


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