What Is Behavioral Therapy?
Behavioral therapy is an action-based form of treatment that can be used to treat a variety of conditions. Behavioral therapy is a general term that refers to various behavior-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). The goal of behavior therapy is to reinforce and create more desirable behaviors and eliminate unwanted ones.
What Does a Behavioral Therapist Do?
Behavioral therapists are licensed clinical therapists trained to treat various mental health disorders. Behavioral counseling is similar to traditional talk therapy in many ways. For example, the therapist will ask questions to understand the causes of negative behaviors and help guide clients to create more positive behavioral and thought patterns.
What Kinds of Conditions do Behavioral Therapists Treat?
Behavioral therapy interventions can help treat a variety of conditions, including:
- Anxiety disorders
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Eating disorders
- Emotional distress
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Social phobias
What Are the Types of Behavioral Therapy?
Many types of behavioral therapy are utilized to help treat various mental health conditions and concerns. Depending on the condition someone is struggling with and their needs, different behavior therapy techniques may be more effective than others.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a form of behavior therapy often used to treat those struggling with autism. ABA treatment can help increase communication skills, improve attention and focus, and decrease problem behaviors by teaching clients how to apply skills learned during sessions to real-life situations.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely used and researched forms of treatment that can help improve symptoms of many disorders and conditions. CBT helps clients understand how their thoughts affect their behaviors, teaches how to manage thoughts and behaviors on their own, and creates more positive daily habits.
Compared to other therapy methods, a multitude of evidence and research has proven CBT to be an effective treatment, especially for anxiety, stress, anger control, somatoform disorders, and bulimia.2
Dialectical Behavior Therapy(DBT)
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a mindfulness-based form of behavioral psychotherapy. Principles used in DBT treatment can help treat stress and anxiety-related disorders and those who struggle with past trauma.
One study found that DBT for people with suicidal thoughts and borderline personality disorder reduced suicide attempts by 50%, hospitalization for suicide ideation, and medical risk for suicide attempts and self-injurious acts.3
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) helps people recognize negative beliefs and thought patterns to overcome mental health concerns and emotional distress. REBT focuses on the ABC model, which stands for activating event, belief, and consequence. This model aims to identify situations that led to negative feelings and work to change that response to a more positive one.
Social Learning Theory
Social learning theory is a behavioral therapy model that focuses on social skills, relationships, and interactions with others. The social learning approach to behavioral counseling helps clients improve their relationships with others, which in turn helps treat mental and emotional distress.
Techniques Used in Behavioral Therapy
Therapists can use many behavioral therapy techniques during treatment. These will be detailed below.
Activity scheduling is commonly used with the behavioral treatment approach. The goal of behavior therapy is to create more positive behavioral patterns. Therefore, writing down and scheduling activities for the day will create more positive daily habits that lead to success.
Cognitive restructuring is a behavioral counseling technique that involves the therapist asking about their client’s thought process during everyday situations. This allows the therapist to target negative views, beliefs, and behaviors and teach how to reframe them with a more positive outlook.
Exposure therapy involves exposing clients to situations that cause them distress. By being exposed to stressful situations during therapy, people can learn how to cope during those situations and manage their behavior.
Research has shown prolonged exposure therapy to be the most studied and supported treatment for PTSD, resulting in a significant reduction in symptoms and high retention rates.4
Behavioral therapy methods commonly utilize journaling or other thought tracking techniques to assess behavioral and thought patterns. Over time, journaling will help clients learn more about themselves and how to create more positive mental health behaviors to improve overall well-being.
Relaxation techniques can be incredibly beneficial for improving mental health and managing stress, anxiety, and other related issues.
Here are some effective relaxation techniques you can try:
Deep Breathing: Practice deep breathing by inhaling deeply through your nose for a count of four, holding the breath for four counts, and then exhaling slowly through your mouth for another four counts. This can help activate your body’s relaxation response.
Mindfulness Meditation: Focus your attention on the present moment, observing your thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judgment. Mindfulness meditation can help reduce anxiety and increase your overall sense of well-being.
Yoga: Practicing yoga combines physical movement, deep breathing, and mindfulness, making it an effective relaxation technique. It can help improve flexibility, reduce stress, and enhance your mental well-being.
Breath-focused Techniques: Practices like “4-7-8” breathing involve inhaling for a count of four, holding for a count of seven, and exhaling for a count of eight. This can help calm the nervous system.
Remember that different techniques work for different people. It’s important to find what resonates with you and practice regularly to experience the full benefits.
Successive approximation, also known as shaping, is a behavioral psychology concept and a technique used in operant conditioning to teach or train complex behaviors by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable steps. It involves reinforcing behaviors that are progressively closer to the desired final behavior or goal.
Benefits of Behavioral Therapy
There are many benefits of the behavioral approach to therapy. Common benefits of behavioral therapy are:
Manage Mental Illness Symptoms
The behavioral treatment approach can help manage mental illness symptoms. Behavior therapy aims to create more positive behavior patterns to manage mental distress. Over time, this will improve symptoms and develop more feelings of positive mental well-being.
Alternative to Medications
Behavioral psychotherapy can be an alternative to medications in some instances. At times, all that is needed to treat mental distress is guidance and support from a therapist. For those with more severe conditions, behavior therapy can also help in addition to medications and will provide additional treatment benefits.
Learn Coping Techniques
Coping techniques are important components of behavior therapy, which is a therapeutic approach focused on identifying and modifying problematic behaviors. These techniques help individuals manage and respond to various situations, emotions, and triggers in healthier ways.
Remember that the effectiveness of these techniques can vary from person to person. Our trained therapist will tailor the coping techniques to the individual’s specific needs and goals, ensuring that they receive the most appropriate support and guidance.
Overcome Emotional Trauma
Behavioral counseling can help to overcome emotional trauma. Skills taught using the behavioral approach to therapy can help clients learn about their thoughts related to traumatic incidents and how to manage emotions associated with them.
It’s important to note that addressing emotional trauma often requires a comprehensive approach that may include other therapeutic modalities, such as psychotherapy, support groups, medication (if necessary), and holistic practices.
Behavioral therapy teaches interpersonal skills that will improve relationships. This can benefit those with family or relationship problems causing emotional distress.
At Great Oaks Recovery, we customize the teaching of interpersonal skills to the individual’s unique needs and challenges. Behavioral therapy can be highly effective in helping individuals improve their ability to connect with others, reduce social anxiety, and navigate social situations more comfortably.
How to Get Started With Behavioral Therapy
The following includes a few tips on how to get started with behavioral therapy:
Find a Behavioral Therapist
Finding a behavioral therapist can be as easy as searching on the internet. Ensure to review potential therapists’ credentials and what they specialize in to get the best treatment that meets your needs. In addition, do not hesitate to ask therapists questions to learn more about them.
Ask for Recommendations
Asking for recommendations can go a long way. Medical professionals and even friends and family may provide helpful advice regarding therapists, therapy types, and how to get the most out of your therapy sessions.
Contact Your Health Insurance
Your health insurance provider can offer a list of therapists and mental health offices that accept your insurance. In addition, you can contact your health insurance to learn more about what your plan covers.
Please fill out our Insurance Verification Form.
Setting goals is an excellent way to lay out your plans, compartmentalize goals in different aspects of your life, and keep track of your accomplishments.
Setting goals is a fundamental aspect of behavioral therapy. Goals provide direction, focus, and motivation for therapy, allowing individuals to work towards specific behavioral changes and improvements in their lives. In behavioral therapy, goal setting is a collaborative process between the therapist and the individual seeking treatment.
Be an Active Participant
Listening to your therapist is an important aspect of therapy and can greatly contribute to the success of your treatment.
Here are some 6 key points to consider when it comes to listening to your therapist:
- Open Communication: Effective therapy is built on open and honest communication. Share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with your therapist so they can gain a deeper understanding of your needs and concerns.
- Active Listening: Actively engage in the therapy sessions by listening attentively to what your therapist is saying. This helps you absorb and understand the insights, guidance, and strategies they offer.
- Follow Recommendations: Therapists may suggest specific techniques, exercises, or homework assignments to practice between sessions. Follow these recommendations to reinforce your progress and learning.
- Ask Questions: If something is unclear or if you have doubts about a particular approach or technique, don’t hesitate to ask questions. Your therapist is there to help you understand and navigate the process.
- Discuss Concerns: If you have concerns about the therapy process or if you’re experiencing challenges, discuss them with your therapist. They can help address these issues and adjust the approach as needed.
- Set Goals: Collaborate with your therapist to set clear and achievable goals for therapy. This provides a sense of purpose and direction throughout your treatment.
Get Behavioral Therapy at Great Oaks Recovery Center
If you are looking for behavioral therapy in the Houston, Texas area, Great Oaks Recovery Center can help. Great Oaks has licensed behavioral therapists trained to treat various conditions, including substance use disorder and mental health conditions. Contact us today for more information about our programs and how to get started.