What is Behavioral Therapy?
Is behavioral therapy an effective treatment for addiction, anxiety, OCD, bipolar, and more? Read on to find out.
What is Behavioral Therapy?
When we think of common types of therapy, behavioral therapy is likely one of the first types that come to mind. Behavioral psychotherapy refers to a broad scope of therapeutic techniques to correct maladaptive behaviors.
Behavioral therapy is centered around the principles of behaviorism, which suggest that we learn from the environment around us. Unlike other types of therapy that focus inward, behavioral therapy is action-based, and the goal of behavior therapy is on outward, actionable changes.
Origin of Behavioral Therapy
The father of behavioral therapy is Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov, whose work was popularized in the 1920s and 1930s. You may recognize his last name — he is the psychologist behind “Pavlov’s Dog,” where he showed that dogs could be conditioned to salivate at the sound of a bell.1
Pavlovian conditioning is one early component of behavioral therapy. American psychologist B.F. Skinner also popularized behavioral therapy in the United States throughout the mid-1900s.
Goal of Behavioral Therapy
Behavioral psychotherapy can be used to treat many conditions and is widely used. Because the goal of behavior therapy and behavioral counseling is to be problem-focused and action-oriented, it can be instrumental in treating specific, changeable problems like anger issues or stress management.
What Are the Different Types of Behavior Therapy?
There are several types of behavioral therapy. The type of therapy used depends on different factors, including a person’s symptoms or condition and the severity of their situation.
Behavioral Therapy Opportunities
Examples of behavioral counseling include:
Behavioral Therapy Interventions
How exactly does behavioral counseling work? A behavioral counselor's treatment approach may vary based on individuals' circumstances, but there are some common techniques that many therapists utilize. The behavioral therapy model is based on classical conditioning and operant conditioning.
Classical conditioning is a behavioral treatment approach to altering behavior that involves forming associations between stimuli. This means that the therapist will "train" an individual to react in a new way to previously neutral stimuli. Eventually, an association is formed between the individual and the stimuli, allowing for new reactions.3
Aversion therapy is another behavioral treatment approach for changing behavior. With this technique, therapists will pair the negative behavior with an unpleasant stimulus hoping that the negative behavior will be reduced. A good example of aversion therapy is when people with alcohol use disorder use prescription medications like Antabuse, which causes nausea, anxiety, vomiting, and other unpleasant symptoms when used with alcohol.
Flooding is another popular behavioral therapy intervention. In this case, behavioral counselors will expose individuals to their fear or phobia quickly and intensely. This rapid exposure prevents the person from avoiding or escaping the situation; in this situation, facing the phobia can serve to reduce or lessen the fear around it.
Systematic desensitization is another behavioral treatment approach. With this approach, individuals list their fears and are then taught to relax while thinking about these fears. Often individuals will start with the least-frightening fear and work their way up to their most difficult fear. This technique can help treat anxiety disorders and phobias.
This behavioral approach to therapy focuses on using reinforcement or punishment to increase or decrease a specific behavior. Behaviors followed by positive reinforcement are more likely to occur, while those followed with punishment are less likely to occur.4
Operant Conditioning Techniques
Some techniques involved in this approach include:
Who Benefits from a Behavioral Approach to Therapy?
Modern behavioral therapy effectively treats a wide range of psychological conditions. Some of these include:
This type of therapy can also be helpful for individuals who want to manage stress and anger issues. The goal of behavior therapy is to produce positive changes in a short amount of time.
Is Behavioral Therapy Effective?
One of the benefits of behavioral therapy is that behavioral treatment is very effective. Over 75% of people who participate in cognitive behavioral therapy report benefits from the treatment. A 2012 study suggests that behavioral therapy is most effective at treating the following conditions:5
Learn More with Anew Treatment Center
Are you interested in a behavioral approach to therapy? If so, Anew Treatment Center may be the place for you. At Anew Treatment Center, you receive high-quality care tailored to your unique needs. Our team offers holistic addiction treatment and intensive mental health support using a holistic approach.
Anew Treatment Center is committed to providing sustainable changes, not quick-fix solutions that perpetuate the cycle of addiction. Offering a luxury detoxification program, healing residential inpatient treatment, and in-depth, dual-diagnosis care, Anew is a treatment center that guarantees you compassionate, quality care and the modern behavioral therapy treatment you're looking for.
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