16 Minutes

By THE BALANCE
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The term ‘Behavioral therapy’ encompasses a wide range of treatments, including Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), systematic desensitization, and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) among many other forms and techniques. Negative behaviors are replaced with beneficial ones in behavioral therapy.

Ivan Pavlov is credited with being one of the originators of behavioral theory. Though the majority of his preliminary studies were devoted to digestion physiology, his work eventually led him towards the science of trained reflexes. You may recall his important discovery, in which he trained dogs to correlate the noise of a dinner bell with food. Consequently, he trained the dogs to drool in response to the sound of the bell.

Behavioral theory is centered on the premise that certain habits arise as a result of prior learning and that behavioral therapy can assist you in altering your reactions to those behaviors. It makes use of fundamental behavioral principles such as rewards and punishments to promote healthy behavioral change. Alcohol addiction issues among many other conditions are frequently treated with behavioral treatment.

There are various types of behavioral therapy offered to treat a wide range of mental health disorders and concerns. While a mental wellness counselor or psychologist can help with most of these techniques, others require the expertise of a specialized professional. Regardless, here is a glimpse of today’s wide range of behavior therapy or behavior treatment modalities.

Psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic therapy usually termed as “talk therapy,” is a form of behavioral therapy where a psychotherapist listens to a patient talk and then establishes a set of behavioral and emotional patterns from which to further work and draw the useful inference that will benefit the patient.  Furthermore, the subconscious characteristics are well inspected during such counseling or talk therapy sessions as well as the exploration of the conscious and cognitive aspects of the human psyche. This discipline of studying the human conscience was founded by Sigmund Freud, and it has steadily increased and developed in efficacy until the present day.

In most cases, CBT involves a psychotherapist interacting with a patient to address persistent and troublesome emotions, attitudes, or behaviors.  Constant nail-biting and even rage handling are examples of this. Anxiety and phobias that are overpowering are also typical examples. This therapeutic strategy may function effectively on its own, or it may necessitate the application of further, reinforcing approaches in order to ensure long-term impact on the patient and their needs.

Group therapy, as its title suggests, is about supportive therapy in group interaction. Couple or family therapy is the most prevalent form of this method of behavioral therapy, wherein 2 or more associated persons collaborate with the psychotherapist in the process of therapy. This is in contrast to each person working alone in therapy. Open mental barrier recognition, face-to-face conversations, faster relational impact due to therapy are among the benefits of this form of therapy.

Child psychotherapy has its own distinct place in the realm of behavioral sciences. While child therapy does not refer to a particular therapeutic technique, it does cover a variety of other individual therapy methods. Modeling — the use of training, visualization, and role-play to get a better understanding of how to handle various situations in life – is one such method. Play therapy – the utilization of play to communicate and express – is another method under this umbrella. Play therapy, according to the American Counseling Association, makes use of an essential and fascinating truth: play is to the kid what verbal expression is to the adult.

Addiction therapy is a distinct and essential field of behavioral therapy in today’s modern world. It is this type of therapy that caters to the needs of drug and alcohol abusers in their quest to recover and remain sober. Workers in this capacity may serve in out-patient,  in-patient, or even settings where they might visit the homes of people who need therapy. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, behavioral therapy can be used to manage addiction in a range of methods. Incentive and motivational/inspirational therapy, intervention assessment methods, care program models, family group therapy, the 12-step program are only a few of them.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a method of therapy that aims to improve social functioning by changing harmful habits. Positive or negative reinforcement is used by ABA practitioners to develop desirable behavioral changes. The operant conditioning model of B.F. Skinner is used in applied behavior analysis to train specific behaviors through punishments or rewards. ABA therapists help clients develop interaction and basic living skill sets so they can live independently.

Benefits of behavioral Therapy

Autism spectrum disorders are the most common reason for ABA therapy. According to the Autism Society, behavioral and developmental disorders affects about 3.5 million people in the United States. Post-traumatic stress disorder,  Obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit, and hyperactivity disorder among other disorders can all benefit from applied behavior analysis. The majority of ABA therapists are Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs).

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on resolving negative emotional cycles in order to promote more positive actions. By remaining consciously present, DBT therapists hope to increase their patients’ capacity for tolerance for prior traumatic feelings. Dialectical behavior therapy includes teaching individuals how to control strong changes in mood in order to live a more balanced lifestyle. Manic depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation are common reasons for seeking DBT therapy. By developing proactive social skills for improved interactions, DBT also boosts patients’ self-esteem and assertiveness. The group, as well as individual therapy with DBT therapists, are mainly for patients with borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder. Alcoholism, disordered eating, and chronic depression all benefit from dialectical behavior therapy. The Linehan Board certifies DBT practitioners.

Mentalization-based therapy (MBT) is a further type of behavioral treatment that links inappropriate behaviors of the patients to feelings and emotions. Individuals with poor cognitive comprehension of their thoughts and feelings are treated by MBT therapists. Emotional bonding disorders are common among MBT therapists’ patients. Clients who receive Mentalization-based therapy become more conscious of other people’s feelings as well. MBT therapy attempts to improve emotional control in order to avoid hasty, harmful acts to themselves or others. MBT therapists use transference to reflect their patients’ emotions and help them become more self-aware. Personality disorders and attachment disorders, such as narcissistic and antisocial disorders are treated through Mentalization-based therapy. Bipolar psychosis, drug abuse, and anorexia nervosa can all benefit from MBT therapy.

Exposure therapy is a form of behavioral therapy used to help individuals manage their stress and life challenges, resulting in a relaxed temperament. Exposure therapists create a stage-wise approach to gradually introduce individuals to anxiety-inducing events. To calm strong emotions, exposure therapy offers critical coping mechanisms and deeper breathing techniques. Exposure therapy participants utilize relaxation and visualization activities to progressively desensitize themselves to the once terrifying subject. Exposure therapists modify treatment to prevent distressing patients by presenting them to their fears too fast. Irrational fears, anxiety symptoms, and post-traumatic stress disorder can all benefit from exposure therapy. Exposure treatment may also aid in the reduction of recurrent behaviors linked with obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenic psychosis.

Music therapy is an effective behavioral and cognitive treatment that uses calming sounds to increase patient well-being. Through rehabilitative music, music therapists want to induce adjustments in maladaptive patterns. Music therapy clients compose, sing, and perform on music to release suppressed sentiments that are influencing their behavior. Music therapists use music classes to offer vital everyday skills that help people develop in all aspects of their lives. To promote relaxation, relieve tension, and deal with discomfort, patients are immersed in cathartic musical activities. Music therapists use a wide range of styles, from traditional to modern. autism, dementia, anxiety, depression, and mental issues can all benefit from music therapy. More than 8,000 therapists have been certified by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA).

Computerized cognitive-behavioral therapy (iCBT) is one of the most recent behavioral therapies to be modified for the twenty-first century’s technological revolution. Patients are guided through therapy exercises by iCBT therapists over an online connection. Computerized CBT entails using any digital platform to communicate, such as Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom. According to studies, guided online CBT courses are just as effective as in-person meetings. Clients who are self-conscious about traditional psychotherapy may be more likely to seek virtual treatment. Global occurrences, as the COVID-19 pandemic, demand iCBT in some cases. Individuals with mild to moderate symptoms and disorders can benefit from computerized cognitive-behavioral therapy. Depression, disordered eating, anxiety, sleeplessness, and mood disturbances are common among iCBT patients.

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a complementary technique in which clients are paired with non-human companions in order to achieve beneficial behavioral outcomes. AAT therapists frequently incorporate animals into other forms of behavioral therapy in order to accelerate success. Animal-assisted therapy aids in the development of emotional ties and the regulation of impulsive behaviors in clients. Clients in AAT learn to trust people, have open conversations, and improve their attention skills. Dogs, cats, horses, goats, and even guinea pigs could be used in animal-assisted therapy sessions. Clients acquire self-control skills by caring for an animal who loves unconditionally. Assistance Dogs International, for example, requires therapeutic service canines to be certified. Attention deficit disorder, autism, addiction, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and other disorders may benefit from animal-assisted treatment.

Hypnotherapy is an alternative therapy that is used in conjunction with other behavioral therapies to help people change harmful behaviors. Hypnotherapists utilize relaxation exercises to induce deep meditative states in their patients. Sigmund Freud’s psychodynamic speculations of the conscious and unconscious mind are the foundation of hypnotherapy. To rectify maladaptive behaviors, hypnotherapists aim to reach underlying thoughts and emotions in the unconscious. Hypnotherapy leads patients through a series of pointers that retrain their perceptions and change their behavior. Hypnosis allows clients to tune out the outside world and turn their efforts on positive behavioral recommendations. People with phobias, addictions, compulsive eating disorders, sleeplessness, and sexual dysfunction benefit from hypnotherapy. The Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist (CCH) credential is usually held by practitioners.

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is a therapy for resolute patients who refuse to accept help for self-destructive behaviors. MET therapists work to make difficult patients feel less ambivalent and more invested in their treatment. Motivational enhancement treatment motivates individuals to adapt by breaking through protective mechanisms and rationalizations. For the development of self-awareness, MET participants understand how their habits negatively affect themselves and others. Individuals are encouraged to create self-motivating affirmations, attainable goals, and self-imposed rewards by MET therapists. Patients’ performance and ability to accomplish desired results are continually reinforced through MET therapy. In the 1990s, motivational enhancement therapy was devised for the management of chronic alcoholism. Stress, gambling, compulsive behaviors, and other addictions can all be helped with MET.

Another action-oriented style of behavioral therapy that treats self-defeating cognitive patterns is rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). REBT therapy tries to correct illogical, incorrect beliefs that contribute to behavioral problems in clients. Albert Ellis founded rational emotive behavior therapy in 1955 to treat undesirable personality traits. REBT therapists work with people to address issues like regret, guilt, denial, and rage that affect their personal and social relationships. REBT participants seek to substitute negative, irrational sentiments with positive, rational ones in order to live a better and more fulfilled life. REBT therapists also make sure their clients have realistic goals and don’t stress about things they can’t control. In diseases ranging from psychosis to depression, rational emotive behavior therapy reduces skewed thinking.

Expressive arts therapy is a technique that uses creative artwork activities to treat cognitive-behavioral issues. To promote emotional recovery, art therapists combine psychology and counseling with creative arts. Visual imagery is used in expressive arts therapy to share tales and feelings. Sculpture, drawing, dancing, theatrical performance, and pottery are among the media used by art therapists. People can either physically make works of art or merely gain emotional responses from looking at or observing them. Expressive arts therapy is a multi-modal therapy that aims to release suppressed emotions and encourage behavioral change. People of all ages and artistic abilities, with nearly any disease, are welcome to participate. Over 5,000 master-level practitioners are enrolled with the American Art Therapy Association (AATA).

One of the trauma-focused types of behavioral therapies to decrease distress is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Clients are asked to recall vivid visual aspects of psychological traumas by EMDR therapists. The goal of EMDR treatment is to change how the brain interprets painful life events in order to repair deep mental wounds. Trauma survivors can live with previous tragedies with the help of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy. The idea is to change the bodily reaction to painful memories by activating positive cognition. EMDR therapists use a technique called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) to change negative memories into positive ones. Clients who have experienced abuse, sexual assault, combat, or devastating loss are good candidates for EMDR. Personality problems, insomnia, anxiety, addiction, and dissociative disorders are all treated by EMDR therapy.

Humanistic therapy differs from other types of behavioral therapies in that it treats psychological issues holistically and as a whole person. Clients’ bad, harmful behaviors are avoided by humanistic therapists. Humanistic treatment, on the other hand, uses solely positivity to resolve dysfunction. Humanistic therapy teaches clients to see themselves as strong, intelligent, creative, and powerful persons capable of dealing with life’s challenges. Humanistic therapists are simply guides who help clients discover their own intuition and wisdom. Humanistic treatment is based on the unwavering assumption that everyone possesses inherent human goodness. Humanistic treatment can help with a variety of issues, including schizoid personality disorder and social anxiety disorder. Divorce and chronic sickness are examples of family or relationship concerns that clients might address.

Client-centered therapy, gestalt therapy, and existential therapy are the three main types of humanistic therapies.

Client-centered therapy is founded on the premise that other people’s criticism and rejection cause emotional anguish. Developed by Carl Rogers in the 1940s, this type of therapy employs strategies such as congruence, empathy, and unconditional positive regard to allowing the patient to open up and express himself without fear of being judged. Addiction and substance misuse are frequently treated with this form of therapy. Frederick S. Perls invented Gestalt therapy, which emphasizes the participant’s life in the present moment. Techniques such as reenactment and role play may be used in this type of therapy to investigate how previous events influence current ideas and emotions. Finally, existential therapy is a conceptual treatment method that considers the entire human situation, not simply the patient’s emotions. It shares many features with humanistic counseling, and it may involve assisting the client in discovering philosophical significance in their own lives as well as in the world around them.

Anger management therapy is a type of psychotherapy for aggressive people who act out their rage in potentially dangerous ways. Clients with abnormally high levels of frustration and rage are seen by anger management therapists. Anger management clients frequently struggle to control their high levels of bodily arousal in response to annoying stimuli. Before harm is done, anger management therapy seeks to identify the fundamental causes of contentious and aggressive outbursts. Trauma, substance misuse, paranoid thinking, perceived failure, and other factors may prompt anger management clients to lash out. Therapists devise thorough programs for transitioning from angry, destructive behaviors to healthier trigger reactions. In criminal situations, judges may require anger management therapy if it is voluntary. The National Anger Management Association can certify therapists (NAMA).

It is necessary to learn more about the underlying ideas that lead to behavioral treatment in order to comprehend how it functions. The concepts of operant conditioning and classical conditioning are employed to develop the strategies used in this form of therapy.

Classical Conditioning

The procedure of classical conditioning includes the development of linkages among stimuli. Neutral stimuli are associated with a certain cue that produces a reaction spontaneously and instinctively. After a sequence of combinations, a linkage is formed, and the formerly neutral stimulus will provoke the response on its own.

One technique to modify behavior is classical conditioning. This method of therapy works with a range of strategies and tactics.

Aversion therapy is a technique that includes combining an undesired behavior with a painful stimulus in the hopes of decreasing the unpleasant behavior. Someone with alcohol addiction, for example, might take anti-abuse medication (disulfiram), a medicine that, when coupled with alcohol, induces serious symptoms (like vomiting, anxiety, nausea, and headaches).

Flooding is a technique that includes repeatedly and intensively subjecting individuals to fear-inducing things or scenarios. It is commonly employed in the treatment of phobias. The person is stopped from fleeing or evading the problem during this method.

Systematic desensitization is a technique in which people put together a list of their worries and then learn to relax whilst focusing on them. People approach their fears in a systematic manner under the supervision of a therapist, starting with the lowest fear-inducing thing and making their way up to some of the most fear-inducing objects. Phobias and other anxiety conditions are frequently treated using systematic desensitization.

Exposures are similar to systematic desensitization in that it introduces the user to feared stimuli (Corey, 2005). The patient is allowed to experience anxiety-provoking scenarios during in vivo desensitization.

The patient is initially subjected to a short period of time before being exposed to the frightening situation for greater lengths of time. The patient is trained with relaxation techniques to deal with the anxiety caused by the scenario, similar to systematic desensitization. To show in vivo desensitization, a patient with a spider phobia will be presented as an example.

For the first session, the participant is shown a spider in a jar on the opposite side of the room for 60 seconds. The time would progressively increase and the participant would get closer to the spider until he or she could stay near the spider for a longer period of time.

Operant Conditioning

The concept of punishment and reinforcement can be utilized to decrease or increase the occurrence of a behavior. The utility of the concept in behavioral therapy is known as the technique of operant conditioning. It is of human nature and survivability to adopt behaviors that are lead to positive outcomes. Actions that have a beneficial result have a better chance to be adopted in the future, whereas activities that could lead to unwanted outcomes have a lesser probability of adoption.

Reward, reprimand, molding, modeling, and behavioral therapies are utilized to influence behavior. These techniques have the benefit of being greatly fixated, permitting them to bring immediate and effectual outcomes.

Contingency management involves a formal signed agreement between a patient and a therapist (or teacher, parent) that specifies behavior-change targets, incentives, reinforcements, and punishments. As the limits are inscribed out clearly, contingency agreements can be pretty effective in altering the conduct since they avert both groups from violating their commitments.

Extinction is to remove the reinforcing action in order to eliminate the reaction. It is another technique to induce behavior modification. The extinction process is effectively shown through time-outs. A person is withdrawn from a situation that offers reinforcement during a time-out. Undesirable behavior is finally eliminated by removing what the person considered rewarding.

Behavior modeling is a technique that comprises learning through observing and mimicking the actions of others. Modeling, rather than relying solely on punishments and reinforcements, enables us to understand new abilities or acceptable behaviors by witnessing someone else do so.

Modeling is a form of therapy that focuses on strengthening interpersonal skills including communication and how to behave in social situations. Live modeling, conceptual modeling,  participatory modeling, role-playing, and subliminal modeling are all techniques used in modeling therapy. The individual watches a “model” execute a particular behavior, such as the counselor, and then replicates that behavior. Symbolic modeling includes the client indirectly witnessing a behavior, in real-time or through a video. When a therapist role-plays an activity with a patient, the patient is given the opportunity to practice the behavior.

Participatory modeling includes the therapist modeling the action and then having the patient practice it while the counselor is performing with him. In covert modeling, instead of having the patient witness someone execute the behavior, the counselor has the patient picture a model practicing it (Sharf, 2000).

Token economies is a technique that focuses on reinforcement to change behavior. Token economies are widely used by families and instructors, enabling children to gain tokens for indulging in desired behaviors and miss tokens for involving in bad behaviors. These tokens can then be exchanged for sweets, gifts, or additional time interacting with a favorite toy.