Behavior therapy is a type of psychotherapy that aims to help people with mental health disorders change their behavior using a variety of different techniques. Conducted by a psychologist, BT utilizes techniques with roots in behaviorism and/or cognitive psychology to improve social and communication skills, and better manage emotions and behaviors.
Emotion Regulation is the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy module that teaches how emotions work. It provides skills to help manage emotions instead of being managed by them, reduce vulnerability to negative emotions, and build positive emotional experiences.
distress tolerance skills address the tendency of some individuals to experience negative emotions as overwhelming and unbearable. People with a low tolerance for distress can become overwhelmed at relatively mild levels of stress, and may react with negative behaviors.
Mindfulness is an integral part of behavioral therapy that helps people learn to improve relationships, cope with distress, and live more in the present moment. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is another approach that incorporates elements of CBT and mindfulness.
Interpersonal effectiveness, at its most basic, refers to the ability to interact with others. It includes skills we use to attend to relationships, balance priorities versus demands, and balance the “wants” and the “shoulds”
Beyond the direct goal of changing a patient’s externalized behavior, actions directed toward the surrounding environment, behavioral therapy can also be used to treat:
- Excessive Anger, E.G. Intermittent Explosive Disorder
- Panic Disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (Adhd)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Self-Harming Behavior, Like Cutting
- Eating Disorders
- Phobias, Including Social Phobias
- Substance Use Disorders
Externalizing behaviors is most common in children, however, the condition can on occasion, be experienced well into adulthood. For this reason the treatment is most effective in young children, toddlers and adolescents, however it can still be useful for adults experiencing unusual change in behavior, mainly due to injury or disease.
Benefits of Behavioral Therapy Treatments
Behavioral therapy can improve relationships by helping individuals learn effective communication skills and conflict-resolution techniques. These skills can help individuals express their needs and feelings in a healthy way, while also learning to listen and respond to the needs and feelings of others.
- Learning to communicate effectively: In behavioral therapy, individuals learn how to express their thoughts and feelings in a clear, assertive manner. They also learn how to listen actively to others and respond in a constructive way. By improving communication skills, individuals can build stronger, more positive relationships with others.
- Resolving conflicts: Behavioral therapy can help individuals learn how to resolve conflicts in a constructive way. They learn to identify the source of the conflict, express their feelings without blaming or attacking the other person, and work together to find a mutually satisfactory solution.
- Setting boundaries: Behavioral therapy can help individuals learn how to set healthy boundaries in their relationships. They learn how to say no when necessary, express their needs and desires, and avoid getting caught in patterns of codependency or unhealthy relationships.
- Improving empathy and understanding: Behavioral therapy can help individuals develop greater empathy and understanding for others. They learn how to see things from another person’s perspective, and appreciate their feelings and needs. This can help individuals build stronger, more meaningful relationships with others.
Encourage Positive Behaviors
Behavioral therapy can encourage positive behaviors by identifying negative or unwanted behaviors and replacing them with more positive, adaptive ones. Behavioral therapy focuses on changing behaviors that are causing problems, and developing a plan to change those behaviors.
- Identifying negative behaviors: In behavioral therapy, individuals learn to identify negative behaviors that are contributing to their problems. These behaviors may include substance abuse, overeating, procrastination, or social withdrawal.
- Developing a plan to change behaviors: Once negative behaviors have been identified, individuals work with their therapist to develop a plan to change those behaviors. This may involve setting goals, creating a schedule or routine, and using positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviors.
- Learning new coping strategies: Behavioral therapy teaches individuals new coping strategies to deal with difficult situations or emotions. These strategies may include relaxation techniques, cognitive restructuring, and problem-solving skills.
- Building self-confidence: Behavioral therapy can help individuals build self-confidence and self-esteem by focusing on positive behaviors and achievements. By celebrating successes and focusing on strengths, individuals can feel more empowered and motivated to continue making positive changes in their lives.
Treats a Wide Range of Mental Health Conditions
Behavioral therapy can treat a wide range of mental health conditions by focusing on changing negative or unwanted behaviors and modifying the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to a person’s difficulties.
- Anxiety disorders: Behavioral therapy is highly effective in treating anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Techniques such as exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring can help individuals learn to manage their anxiety symptoms and develop new coping skills.
- Depression: Behavioral therapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), is a highly effective treatment for depression. CBT focuses on identifying negative thought patterns and replacing them with more positive, realistic ones. By changing negative thought patterns, individuals can improve their mood and reduce their symptoms of depression.
- Eating disorders: Behavioral therapy can be used to treat eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy can help individuals identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors related to food and body image.
- Addiction: Behavioral therapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management, can be used to treat addiction to drugs, alcohol, and other substances. These therapies focus on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors related to substance use and providing positive reinforcement for desired behaviors such as abstinence.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Exposure therapy, a type of behavioral therapy, can be highly effective in treating PTSD. Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing individuals to the object or situation that causes them anxiety or fear, in a safe and controlled environment. By repeatedly exposing individuals to the object or situation, they can learn to manage their anxiety and reduce their symptoms of PTSD.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a subset of behavioral therapy which focuses on changing thoughts and behaviors whereas behavioral therapy itself focuses on changing external behaviors; actions that are directed toward the external environment such as disobedience, physical aggression, stealing, cheating, and destruction of property.
CBT utilizes cognitive therapies that focus on pattern analysis and analysis of patterns of thought, to adjust how a patients thoughts and belief influence their mood and actions. It typically focuses on current issues and what is required to problem solve.
Cognitive behavioral play therapy is commonly used as a treatment for children with mental health conditions. The treatment allows the child to play, sometimes with their own toys and other times freely on their own, whilst the therapist watches and analyses behavior.
By monitoring the child at play, psychologists are able to gain insight into what emotions the child is uncomfortable, or unwilling, to express. With this knowledge therapists can devise a program that further utilizes play to improve communication and social skills.
Neurological physical therapy is utilized to help regain the loss of physical abilities as a result of:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Guillain Barre Syndrome
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Progressive neurological conditions
It is extremely important in the recovery of those who’ve experience brain injuries, and can be effective for patients of any age.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a form of CBT that utilizes both behavioral and cognitive techniques to help treat symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD) and help patients better manage emotions, cope with stress and trauma, and improve interpersonal relationships.
People receiving DBT treatments are taught skills and coping strategies that can help them lead healthier and happier lives. DBT consists of four elements, known as modules, that outline the specific steps of the procedure;
- Core Mindfulness
- Interpersonal Effectiveness, Which Is Used To Improve Relationships With Others And Yourself
- Emotional Regulation
- Distress Tolerance
Behavioral Therapy is an extremely useful tool when it comes to helping special needs children develop their social and communication skills and manage their emotions and behaviors.
Behavioral Therapy consists of a number of different treatments that can be used to reduce, and/or manage symptoms of those with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
One of the most common BM therapies for Autism is applied behavior analysis (ABA), a widely accepted approach that closely monitors the child’s progress, many other BM treatments are also derived from the ABA technique.
Different types of ABA commonly used to treat autism spectrum disorder (ASD) include:
- Positive Behavioral and Support (PBS). Encourages the child to behave more appropriately by figuring out why a particular behavior occurs, then working to change the response to those triggers.
- Pivotal Response Training (PRT). PRT is used to improve several “pivotal” skills, such as motivation and the urge to communicate, to teach the child relative skills that can help them deal with stressful or awkward situations.
- Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI). Designed for very young children with autism, EIBI provides individualized behavioral instruction taught in both one-on-one and group sessions.
- Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT). The teacher utilizes positive feedback to encourage the child and teach new skills in a controlled, step-by-step manner.