What is Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral Therapy is a type of therapy that treats behaviors with the belief that unhealthy or self-destructive behaviors could be changed or substituted with healthy behaviors. The focus of treatment is on problems and how to solve or overcome them with a healthy response or new healthy behavior.

Types of Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on problem solving with changing thoughts and beliefs which drive actions and moods into healthier thoughts and desirable behavioral patterns. An example would be to recognize self-doubt in certain situations and use mental exercises or behaviors to overcome those bad thoughts in the situation and allow you progress.

 System desensitization

System desensitization is therapy often used to treat phobias as this therapy first teaches relaxation techniques and breathing exercises before being repeatedly exposed to the object of the phobia or the idea of being exposed to the object of the phobia.

Aversion therapy

Aversion therapy is therapy that associates a negative stimulus with the behavior they are trying to change. This is commonly used to treat substance abuse such as smoking or alcoholism where a negative stimulus such as a bad memory is associated with the substance thus lessening the desire or reaching a complete aversion to the behavior they want to change.

Behavior Therapy is Effective at Treating:

  • Hoarding
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Eating Disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Self-Harm
  • Substance Abuse
  • Phobias
  • Social Anxiety
  • Anger Issues
  • Panic Disorders

How effective is it?

Behavioral Therapy has been highly effective at treating negative behaviors and have reported some benefits from treatments. Cognitive Behavioral Play therapy is also very effective with treating children.

Behavioral Exercises and Treatments

Cogbtherapy.com covers many details on some of the exercises and treatments of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) including: 

  • Cognitive Restructuring
  • Activity Scheduling
  • Graded Exposure
  • Successive Approximation
  • Mindfulness Meditation
  • Skills Training
  • Problem Solving
  • Relaxation Breathing Training

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helps Hoarding

CBT methods have been very successful in treating hoarding. CBT therapy works with the person and their desire to not only clean but to hold on or acquire items. It involves assessing the situation and the person’s willingness to change their behavior and then assessing their cause or need to hold on to items. It also involves exercises to avoid bringing in new items or aversion to situations that raise the desire to acquire, motivational training, skills training to sort and organize, repeated exposure to letting go of items, and ensuring the new habits or behaviors are kept up with.  
A guide on the CBT protocol developed by Drs. Randy Frost and Gail Steketee can be found on the iocbf.org website. 

Find a Therapist

Please visit these resources to find a therapist:
ABCT – Associaition for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
ADAA – Anxiety and Depression Association of America 
IOCDF – International OCD Foundation

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