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What Are the Different Types of Behavior Therapy?

What Are the Different Types of Behavior Therapy?

While Behavior Therapy has its origins in the 20th century school of behaviorism, it has only recently come into its own as a widespread form of treatment. It involves a range of techniques that address unwanted behavior and teach positive replacements for it. Whether you suffer from anxiety or find yourself spiraling into depressive thoughts, this type of therapy can be the ideal treatment option for you. Read on to know more about how it works.

Understanding Behavior Therapy

Behavior Therapy is a type of psychotherapy that seeks to identify, process, and change negative or harmful behavioral patterns. The core premise of such therapy is that all behaviors are learned, and can therefore be changed for the better with the right approach. It is an action-based technique which focuses on the behavior as the problem, with the solution rooted in new behaviors that eliminate or reduce the issue. It is a highly focused therapy customized to each patient’s mentality, thought processes, beliefs, and emotional responses.

Types of Behavior Therapy

There are several types of Behavior Therapy that a therapist might recommend, depending on what the patient is dealing with and how severe it is. Some of the popular ones include:

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy: This is perhaps the most common form of Behavior Therapy. It focuses on the way someone’s thoughts and emotions influence their decisions and actions, with the intent of modifying those patterns into healthier ones. It is often recommended for dealing with current problems, such as depression or anxiety following a traumatic event, or processing grief after a grave personal loss.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy: This involves observing children while at play and evaluating their emotions, desires, and communication styles. The therapist will use play to communicate more effectively with the child and teach parents how to do the same. Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy is especially useful for children with behavior or personality disorders.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy: This is a modified version, that helps patients deal better with daily challenges and live in the moment. Mindfulness is one of the core tenets and emphasizes on slowing down, paying attention to sensory inputs, and avoiding knee-jerk responses to emotional situations. It also helps with distress tolerance during tough moments and improving interpersonal relations through healthy expression of one’s needs.
  • Aversion Therapy: This type of Behavior Therapy is useful for addressing substance abuse or alcoholism. It involves training the mind to associate the desire for the substance with an unpleasant stimulus, and thus curbing the urge to give into the desire. For instance, the therapist might teach an alcoholic to associate drinking with a bad memory or a grotesque mental image.
  • System Desensitization: This is used frequently to treat phobias of various kinds. Based on classical conditioning, it involves replacing the fear response to the source of the phobia, using relaxation techniques. The therapist first teaches the patient how to breathe and relax, then exposes them to the phobia in increasing doses so that they learn how to put those techniques into practice.
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT): This form of Behavior Therapy focuses on breaking down irrational beliefs and dealing with emotions in a healthier way. The therapist helps the patient identify the trigger at the heart of an emotional response and then assess whether that response is logically consistent with facts. Ultimately, it enables patients to deal with conflicts and obstacles in a psychologically healthy way.

Who should opt for Behavior Therapy

Such therapy a useful intervention for people with conditions like:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Autism
  • Panic disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • ADHD
  • Eating disorders
  • Social anxiety
  • Phobias
  • OCD
  • Substance abuse

It can also help people cope with stress, burnout, divorce, or the death of a loved one. Both children and adults can benefit from this type of therapy. Cognitive Behavior Therapy, in particular, has been observed to bring about significant benefits for patients.

When opting for Behavior Therapy, it’s important to take your time and look around for a therapist you can trust completely. Try to work with someone who has experience treating your specific problem, if possible. While you might feel nervous about opening up at first, you will soon start seeing the benefits of reframing your thoughts, and guiding yourself towards healthier choices.


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