Over the years, psychologists and researchers have identified about 400 to 600 coping strategies, and yet there are so many other potential coping strategies that are still under research. Because of this, the classifications of coping strategies vary from textbook to textbook.

One of the recognized groupings of coping strategies is that which was written in the psychology textbook by Weiten, which includes the appraisal-focused or adaptive cognitive, the problem-focused or adaptive behavioural, and the emotion-focused.

Many psychologists also contributed to the study of coping mechanisms by grouping mechanisms or strategies according to their manifestations and purposes. In general, here are the general classifications of coping mechanisms:

  1. the appraisal-focused strategies are those coping mechanisms which involve the change of mindset or a revision of thoughts. Denial is the most common coping mechanism under this category.
  2. the problem-focused strategies are those that modify the behaviour of the person. A good example of this is learning how to cook a family dinner upon knowing that your spouse’s family would come over your house this weekend.
  3. the emotion-focused strategies include the alteration of one’s emotions to tolerate or eliminate the stress. Examples include distraction, meditation, and relaxation techniques.
  • Defence – the unconscious ways of coping stress. Examples: reaction formation, regression
  • Adaptive -tolerate stress. Examples: altruism, symbolization
  • Avoidance -keeps self away from the stress. Examples: denial, dissociation, fantasy, passive aggression, reaction formation.
  • Attack – diverts one’s consciousness to a person or group of individuals other than the stressor or the stressful situation. Examples: displacement, emotionality, projection.
  • Behavioural – modifies the way we act in order to minimize or eradicate the stress. Examples: compensation, sublimation, undoing.
  • Cognitive – alters the way we think so that stress is reduced or removed. Examples: compartmentalization, intellectualization, rationalization, repression, suppression.
  • Self-harm – intends to harm self as a response to stress. Examples: introjection, self-harming
  • Conversion – changes one thought, behaviour or emotion into another. Example: somatisation.