Behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the connection between behavior and experiences. A behavioral therapist works with their patients to identify what caused specific behaviors in their lives and uses this information to develop strategies for change. Behavioral therapists work with individuals, couples, families, or groups to encourage new patterns of behavior. The ultimate goal is to increase desirable behaviors and decrease undesirable ones.
How Does Behavior Therapy Work?
Behavioral therapy is based on the idea that a person's actions are influenced by their environment and experiences. Through careful observation, a therapist can identify the relationships between behaviors and pinpoint the antecedents. An antecedent is an event that triggers another behavior.
For example, someone who frequently begins smoking cigarettes after a night out drinking begins to recognize the connection between wanting a cigarette and getting drunk. By identifying the antecedents, therapists can encourage patients to change their responses to these events so that their antecedents no longer trigger a certain behavior.
When Should You Consider Behavioral Therapy?
You can try behavioral therapy if you have any of the following conditions:
Phobias are irrational fears of a situation or object that lead individuals to avoid certain places or behave in specific ways. One of the most common ways behavioral therapy treats phobias is through systematic desensitization. This technique uses repeated exposure to the stimulus that causes the fear so that it becomes tolerable, eventually evoking no reaction.
Depression is a mood disorder whereby someone experiences deep sadness and diminished interest in activities. One behavioral therapy technique for treating depression is activity scheduling, which focuses on re-learning an individual's behavioral patterns by reinforcing positive behavior.
For example, suppose there is a pattern that the depressed person spends all day in bed. In that case, the behavioral therapist may schedule for the person to go out and do activities during specific periods instead of staying in bed all day.
Sleep disorders are problems associated with falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. Behavioral therapy for sleep disorders can take several forms, including stimulus control instructions to promote better sleep hygiene, checklists to improve consistency, and behavioral strategies to reduce anxiety.
If you experience persistent insomnia, the behavioral therapy treatment uses a behavioral conditioning technique called sleep restriction, which involves limiting time spent in bed until normal sleeping patterns are re-established.
The Bottom Line
Behavioral therapy treats a wide range of conditions, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, drug addiction, and many other behavioral problems. During therapy, patients are taught that they have the power to change their thinking, feelings, and behaviors.
If you need behavioral therapy, make an appointment with a therapy center, such as ABA Adaptive Services.
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