What is Behavioral Therapy?

Behavioral TherapyBehavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy or counseling that focuses on teaching clients new behaviors to replace current unhealthy ones. Other names for this school of psychotherapy include behavior therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and behavior modification, among others. Besides learning healthy behaviors, they also explore coping mechanisms for dealing with stressful situations, according to Psych Central. While it’s used in the treatment of a number of mental health disorders, you don’t have to be diagnosed with a problem to benefit from the concepts.

Uses for Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is used by a number of counseling or medical professionals such as mental health counselors, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists. Its primary use is in the treatment of various mood and anxiety disorders. Some more commonly known of these include depression, bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. Other issues commonly treated through behavior modification are schizophrenia, social phobia and post traumatic stress disorder.

In addition to helping people to deal with mental health disorders, behavior therapy is also often used to address issues associated with autism, eating disorders and substance abuse. Something unique about this form of therapy is that it can be used in pain management of chronic ailments and for those who are unable to take medications to assist in the lessening of pain. Behavioral techniques are also used to deal with grief and other emotional issues.

Behavioral Modification Techniques

You may wonder how a therapist uses behavioral therapy to promote change in clients. First, the practitioner meets with clients in order to assess their needs. After this, a treatment plan is written to determine goals for therapy. Therapeutic techniques are employed in counseling sessions in order to teach new behavioral skills and coping mechanisms to clients and to help them to see how past behaviors were not serving them well.

The teaching of coping mechanisms and the re-framing of negative thoughts are commonly found in the behavioral therapist’s toolbox. Learning how to calm one’s self and to turn negative thoughts into more realistic ones can be incredibly helpful. Often, counselors will role play with their clients in order to practice these new methods. Journal writing and breathing or relaxation exercises are good ways to sort out feelings and to calm down during a tense time. Social skills training and positive reinforcements are two methods commonly utilized in cognitive behavioral therapy, as well.

Benefits and Risks of Behavior Therapy

Patients can expect to attain an overall improved quality of life and self-image through the pursuit of behavioral therapeutic methods. Specific results and benefits will depend upon the condition being treated. Some benefits you can expect include improved social skills, more effective expression of emotions, fewer incidents of self-harm and increased pain management, among others. There are very few risks involved with this form of therapy. However, it can be expected that intense emotions will be experienced as you examine past behaviors and go through the steps of learning and practicing new ones.

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Forms of behavior therapy can be quite helpful in a number of different scenarios. You should consider seeking a counselor who practices behavioral therapy if you believe you would benefit positively through its use.