Avoidant coping is associated with distress in carers of people with psychosis. We hypothesized that this form of coping would abate as carers adapt their coping strategies in the course of the illness. One hundred and forty-one carers of two groups of patients, with recent onset and longer established psychosis, respectively, completed self-report measures of coping and general distress. We found that avoidant coping strategies were associated with carer distress but not with duration of illness. These results argue the need for interventions to reduce the carers' reliance on maladaptive (avoidant) strategies at any stage of the illness.