What is Behavioral Therapy?

Behavioral therapy can help treat a variety of behavioral disorders. Learn more about behavioral therapy treatment here.

What is Behavioral Therapy?

Behavioral therapy is a form of therapy that helps treat a variety of potentially self-destructive or unhealthy behaviors. Behavioral therapy treatment focuses on current problems and how to change them or their associated behaviors. People who can benefit from behavioral therapy include those who struggle with mental health conditions, addiction, emotional disorders, and self-harming behaviors. 1
Behavioral Therapy

What Does a Behavioral Therapist Do?

Behavioral therapists help individuals develop skills and coping mechanisms to overcome unhealthy or maladaptive behaviors. Behavioral counselors may treat individuals in different ways, such as through talk therapy, mindfulness exercises, and activities that build life skills. In addition, behavioral therapists may own their own practices or work in hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, schools, or detention facilities.

Role of a Behavioral Therapist

Behavioral therapists have many different responsibilities. The main ones include:

  • Assisting individuals in developing healthy thought patterns and behaviors
  • Diagnosing mental health disorders
  • Designing suitable treatment programs based on individual diagnoses
  • Recommending exercises and activities to help individuals overcome their problems

Types of Behavioral Therapy

There are many different types of behavioral treatment that may be used. The right type of behavior therapy will depend on the individual and the condition they’re struggling with.

Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied behavior analysis is a behavioral treatment that focuses on improving specific behaviors such as social skills, reading, and academics. This type of therapy is usually used for people who struggle with autism. Still, it can also treat adults and children who struggle with various psychological disorders. 2

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of behavior therapy that is focused on how thoughts and perceptions affect a person’s behavior. CBT is generally used to treat those who struggle with addiction and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Cognitive-Behavioral Play Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral play therapy is a type of behavioral therapy for kids. This type of behavioral counseling uses storytelling, games, puppets, and other activities to help build positive behaviors in kids.

Exposure Therapyt

Exposure therapy is a type of behavioral counseling involving exposing an individual to situations and things that cause them distress so they can learn how to cope and manage stress levels in those specific circumstances properly. Exposure therapy is generally used for those who struggle with anxiety and OCD.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

REBT is a type of behavioral counseling that can treat various emotional or behavioral issues. The difference between REBT from other types of behavioral treatment is that it focuses on treating the present thoughts and behaviors rather than past experiences.

Social Learning Theory

Social learning theory is a behavioral treatment approach that focuses on the importance of considering and modeling the behaviors and attitudes of others. Considering the thoughts, attitudes, and feelings of others can lead to better behaviors for the individual as well. 4

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavioral therapy is a type of behavioral counseling that uses mindfulness techniques to treat mental health conditions. DBT was designed to treat borderline personality disorder but has since been adapted to treat several other mental health conditions.3

Techniques Used in Behavioral Therapy

There are many different behavioral therapy techniques that may be used during treatment. Modern behavioral therapy uses principles of both classical conditioning and operant conditioning.

Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning behavioral therapy techniques focus on unconscious or automatic learning processes to treat individuals. Common classical conditioning techniques used in modern behavioral therapy include:
  • Aversion therapy: A behavioral psychotherapy technique designed to cause an individual to reduce or avoid undesirable behaviors by conditioning the person to associate the behavior with an undesirable result or feeling.
  • Flooding: A behavioral method in which an individual is exposed to an anxiety-producing situation or stimulus that is either described or real. This type of exposure therapy helps someone learn to cope in stressful situations. 5
  • Systematic desensitization: A behavioral treatment approach for phobias where an individual is exposed to anxiety-producing situations and taught relaxation techniques they can use to cope and reduce stress.

Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning is a psychological principle based on how people respond to rewards and punishment. Common operant conditioning techniques used in the behavioral treatment approach include:

  • Contingency management: Contingency management involves rewards for hitting certain milestones during treatment. This helps individuals stay committed to the treatment program.
  • Extinction: A behavioral treatment approach that involves no longer reinforcing negative behavior with a reaction.
  • Behavior modeling: A behavioral approach to therapy that involves modeling or considering the behaviors of others.
  • Token economies: Used during the behavioral approach to therapy to provide rewards or positive reinforcement for good behaviors.
Behavioral Therapy

What Behavioral Therapy Can Help With

Behavioral therapy treatment can help with a variety of conditions and experiences. These conditions include:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Alcohol and substance use disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Benefits of Behavioral Therapy

Common benefits of behavioral therapy include (but are not limited to):

  • Communication: Behavioral psychotherapy can often help individuals develop better communication skills through talk therapy and other activities that build life skills.
  • Coping strategies: A common goal of behavioral therapy is to learn coping strategies for stressful situations in everyday life that will improve behaviors over time.
  • Healthier thought patterns: Behavioral therapy will also lead to healthier thought patterns that result in more positive behaviors.
  • Self-esteem: Behavior change therapy can also boost self-esteem from positive results in one’s life from going through behavioral therapy sessions.

Behavioral therapy is curated to fit the needs and expectations of each individual, and will thus have unique benefits relevant to each person’s goals and commitment.

How to Get Started with Behavioral Therapy

You can use the following steps to get started with behavioral therapy.

  • Find a behavioral therapist: An essential part of the behavioral treatment process is finding a therapist that is right for you and your needs. It may take a bit of research to find someone who is the right fit.
  • Ask for recommendations: A good way to find a behavioral therapist is to ask for recommendations. An excellent place to start would be to ask for recommendations from your doctor or contact a treatment provider.
  • Contact your health insurance: You should also contact your health insurance to see what treatment providers are covered by your insurance plan.
  • Set goals: An important part of behavioral therapy is to set goals for what you want to get out of your treatment. This will help you go in the right direction with your treatment plan.
  • Be an active participant: Remember to be an active participant during therapy sessions to get the most benefit from the treatment program.

Get Behavioral Therapy at Essence Healthcare

If you’re looking for behavioral therapy treatment, Essence Healthcare can help. Contact us today for more information on our behavioral therapy services and how we can get you started in a treatment program.

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Questions About Treatment?

We are a patient-first substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in Los Angeles, California. At Essence Healthcare, we provide different levels of care from detoxification to drug rehab aftercare. Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.