Behavioral therapy is a broad term used for types of therapy that treat mental health disorders. This kind of therapy aims to identify and help change potentially self-destructive and unhealthy behaviors. It works on the concept that all behaviors are learned, and that destructive behavior can be changed, with the focus of the treatment often being on current issues and how to change them.
Behavioral Therapy’s Many Uses in Mental Health Treatment
Behavior therapy can benefit people with an extensive range of disorders. People usually seek this form of therapy to treat depression, anxiety, anger issues, and panic disorders. Numerous reports have also shown that behavioral therapy can help treat conditions such as eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), ADHD, bipolar disorder, phobias, self-harm, OCD, and substance abuse. Behavioral therapy can benefit adults and children alike.
Types of Behavioral Therapy
There are several different types of behavioral therapy, which include:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most utilized forms of therapy. It merges behavioral therapy with cognitive therapy, and the treatment is focused on how someone’s thoughts and beliefs impact their actions and moods. It usually centers on a person’s current issues and how to solve them, with the long-term goal being to change that person’s behavioral patterns and thinking to healthier ones.
Cognitive-Behavioral Play Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral play therapy is normally used with children. By watching children play, counselors can gain insight into what a child is uncomfortable expressing or cannot express. Children may be able to choose the toys and play as they wish or may be asked to draw a picture or even use toys to create scenes.
System desensitization focuses heavily on classical conditioning. It is usually used to treat phobias, and people are taught how to replace a fear reaction to a phobia with relaxation responses. A patient is first taught relaxation and breathing methods – once mastered, the therapist will gradually expose them to their fear in increased doses while they practice the relaxation techniques.
Aversion therapy is normally used to treat issues such as substance abuse and alcoholism. It functions by teaching people to associate a stimulus they desire but is unhealthy with an extremely unpleasant stimulus. The unpleasant stimulus may be something that triggers discomfort, such as associating alcohol with an unpleasant memory.
How Effective is Behavioral Therapy
This type of treatment has successfully been used to treat a large number of health issues. It’s considered to be incredibly effective, with around 75 percent of people who enter the therapy experiencing some benefits from it. Studies have shown that cognitive-behavioral therapy is most efficient when treating general stress, anxiety disorders, bulimia, anger control issues, depression, somatoform disorders, and substance abuse.
How To Find a Behavioral Therapist
Finding a therapist can be rather difficult in some cases, but there are numerous resources that make it a more straightforward process. After finding a provider, you can choose from social workers, psychologists, faith-based counselors, non-faith-based therapists, and psychiatrists.
You should ensure that the provider you choose has the required certifications and degrees and should know that some providers will focus on treating particular conditions, such as depression or eating disorders.