What Is Behavioral Therapy And Can It Help Me?

Updated November 21, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When it comes to treating mental health disorders, there are several different ways that treatment can be carried out. Below you'll find a discussion on different types of behavior-focused approaches and how they work. You’ll also learn how certain therapeutic models can help individuals with everyday problems and experiences, even those without symptoms of a specific mental health condition. 

What Is Behavioral Therapy?

Behavioral therapy is a general term that's used to refer to therapies that work to reverse unhealthy or self-destructive behaviors. Behavioral therapy helps to identify those behaviors and to help the patient through the process of changing them. The idea behind it is that, because behaviors are learned, they can then be changed or unlearned as well. Unlike other forms of therapy that look at the past, this type of therapy focuses on the present. It examines current problems the individual is experiencing and seeks solutions for these issues.

Should You Try Behavioral Therapy?

Behavioral therapy can improve lives.

There are many different conditions that behavioral therapy can help to treat. Some of these include depression and anxiety, panic disorders, and anger issues. Conditions like eating disorders, PTSD, ADHD, and phobias are also possible targets for treatment, among a range of other mental health disorders. Most types of behavioral and mental health disorders can be treated through some form of behavioral therapy, though the specifics may change from one type of condition to another as well as from one specific individual to another.

Types Of Behavioral Therapy

Below, we address some of the different examples of behavioral therapy in detail. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is one of the most common and popular types of therapy. Combining cognitive therapy and behavior therapy, CBT is focused on your thoughts and beliefs. In fact, it focuses specifically on the way that these two things influence everything you do and feel. By looking at problematic thoughts and behaviors, CBT attempts to change the way that you think. The idea is that by changing unhealthy thought patterns, you can alter the way you interact with the world for the better.

CB Play Therapy

When it comes to children, play therapy is often effective in helping them with certain problems that they may be facing. The idea is that children play in different ways, and those different ways will help give a therapist insight into what the child is going through. They may be able to express more difficult emotions with the help of the toys that they play with and how they play with them. Some of these forms of play therapy are about free expression while others may be more guided. No matter what the precise method, however, the child is encouraged to play and express themselves while the therapist observes.

Systematic Desensitization

One of the most popular therapeutic techniques utilized in behavior therapy is called systematic desensitization. Individuals with phobias will generally receive the most benefits from this method. Through systematic desensitization, individuals with phobias learn how to remove the fear from the situation or item that they are afraid of. It involves aspects of treatment like learning relaxation techniques and slowly implementing exposure therapy. With this approach, the individual will eventually face their fears.

Aversion Therapy

For individuals experiencing addiction or other unwanted behaviors, aversion therapy is often recommended. This type of therapy instills an association between the negative action that they no longer want and some form of unpleasant stimuli. Uncomfortable memories can be one form of association designed to influence an individual to stop using drugs, for example. 

Who Is Behavioral Therapy For?

Those who are experiencing various mental health disorders may benefit the most from behavioral therapy. 

Children also experience positive outcomes resulting from behavioral therapy, particularly play therapy. These therapeutic treatments allow them to express things that they may otherwise feel too uncomfortable or unable to express. This can help your child with understanding how to respond to situations and even helps with learning. It can also aid in developing an understanding of good and bad behavior and how to interact with others. This can be especially helpful for children who have autism or ADHD. 

Advantages of Seeking Mental Health Help

There are several different benefits associated with therapy. For many people, it can be an effective way to improve overall well-being. Even if you don't believe you're experiencing a mental health disorder, you can still see benefits from behavioral therapy. The opportunity to talk with someone openly and honestly about anything you want can help you to feel more comfortable and confident in your normal, daily life.

Finding The Help You Need With Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy can improve lives.

Sometimes, finding the help that you need can be complicated. Online platforms like BetterHelp provide one avenue for getting the help that you're looking for.

In a recent publication, researchers looked at several different studies to examine whether Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was comparable on a computer versus in person. The authors found that online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is just as effective as face-to-face CBT, and that an online option is likely more appealing for people living in rural communities.

Some of the same benefits of online therapy may be appealing to many people, regardless of where they live. It could be especially helpful for people experiencing distressing symptoms of mental health conditions like those that benefit from behavioral therapy. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists from people facing a range of life’s challenges.

BetterHelp.com Therapist Reviews

“Sirena Blaesser is genuinely kind and generous human being. To have her as my counselor has being wonderful so far. She listens carefully, helps you search in yourself with gentleness, encourage you to acknowledge yourself. The most important thing is that she sees you as a person integrally. She is very patien[t] and well prepared to lead you and motivate you. Her expertise and experience are remarkable. If you want a kind voice to help you overcome hardships, I will recommend Sirena.”


While psychotherapy is often used to treat mental illness, one does not have to be diagnosed with a mental health condition to benefit from therapy. Engaging in regular therapy sessions can help an individual to identify connections between their mental processes, feelings, and behaviors, address problematic behaviors that they would like to change, and develop healthy coping skills for managing difficult emotions. 

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