What Are The Different Types Of Behavioral Therapy?

By: Samantha Dewitt

Updated May 19, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC

When it comes to mental health disorders, there are several different ways that treatment can be carried out. There are several different types of treatment and categories of it. Below you'll find discussion on different types of behavioral therapy and how they work.

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What Is Behavioral Therapy?

Behavioral therapy is a general term that's used to refer to therapies that work on self-destructive behaviors or ones that are considered unhealthy. The therapy helps to identify those behaviors and to help the patient through the process of changing those behaviors. The idea behind it is that, since 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 and looks at current problems the individual is experiencing and what to do about them.

Should You Get Behavioral Therapy?

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

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Types Of Therapy

Let's take a closer look at some of the different types of behavioral therapy because there are several of them. They each focus slightly differently on the disorder or the situation that the individual is experiencing. They also work differently with different types of people, such as some being better for adults and some being intended solely for children. Finding the right type of therapy is going to be a combination of your therapist's thoughts and your own as well as a little trial and error to decide what works best for you specifically.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This is one of the most common and popular types of therapy, and it's focused on your thoughts and beliefs. In fact, it focuses specifically on the way that these two things influence all of the things that you do and feel. By looking at these thoughts and at the problems that are currently being faced, this type of therapy attempts to change the way that you think. The idea is that your thoughts are unhealthy and that by changing them it will be possible for you to change more than just your perception, but the way that you interact with the world.

Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy

When it comes to children, play therapy is a great way to help them with any 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 situations because 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 a little more guided. No matter what method, however, the child is encouraged to play and express themselves.

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System Desensitization

Those with phobias will generally receive the most benefits from this type of therapy. In it, they're learning how to remove the fear from the situation or item that they are afraid of. It involves things like learning relaxation techniques and slowly going through exposure therapy. With this type of therapy, the individual will eventually face their fears, and the idea is that they will be able to overcome the fear, which is likely interfering with their life in some way.

Aversion Therapy

For those who suffer from addiction or who engage in some form of behavior that they no longer want to, aversion therapy helps them to overcome the addiction. It teaches association between the negative action that they no longer want and some form of unpleasant stimuli. It could be something that makes you unhappy or uncomfortable, but it is something that causes you to turn away from the addiction because you do not want whatever the stimuli are. Uncomfortable memories can be one form of association that's made to get an individual to stop using drugs, for example. Other types of uncomfortable stimuli may be entirely up to you and your therapist to discover.

Who It's Really For

Those who are experiencing different mental health disorders or who are struggling even more in their life should most definitely seek out professional help, and behavioral therapy can be one of the best ways to do it. You can learn a great deal about yourself and about the things that are important to you by work through this type of talk therapy, no matter which specific format you and your therapist decide on. If you're struggling with anxiety disorders, stress, bulimia, anger problems, depression or substance abuse, especially, this type of therapy has shown even better results.

Children also show great results from this type of therapy and the play therapy that they engage in. It allows them to express things that they otherwise may feel uncomfortable or unable to express. This can help your child with understanding how to respond to situations and even helps with learning and 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. It can allow them to learn how to interact positively with the people around them, including family, friends, and peers.

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There are several different benefits to therapy, and for many people, it can be a great way to improve your wellbeing. Even if you don't believe you're suffering from a mental health disorder, you can see benefits from getting therapy. The main structure and ideas behind it, especially being able to openly and honestly talk with someone about anything you want, can help you to feel more comfortable and confident in your normal, daily life.

When it comes down to it, there are no downsides to going into therapy and talking with a mental health professional about anything that's happening in your life. You'll be able to learn more about yourself, and you'll be able to work through even minor problems that you may be experiencing in your life. If you ever find yourself questioning your decisions or questioning the path you're on this is a great way to talk through things with someone who doesn't have a vested interest (like your friends or family). It allows you to honestly evaluate everything in your life without having to worry about hurting someone else.

Finding The Help You Need

Sometimes, finding the help that you need can be very complicated. You might struggle to find someone if you live in a small town and there aren't a lot of options for therapists. You might also not want to walk into a physical location, especially if you live in a small town, for fear of judgment or other people knowing where you're going. As a result, you may want to look at some of the alternatives to traditional therapy and one of the best methods you can use is to attend online therapy.

Online therapy gives you all of the benefits that you get from traditional therapy or being in the same room with someone. You still get the one-on-one interaction, and you may even get a therapist who is better skilled and prepared to help you with what you're experiencing. That's because you're not limited by geographical area and you can talk to someone who's located just about anywhere in the country or the world even. This gives you more freedom to find someone that you're comfortable with as well.

Online companies like BetterHelp are one way that you can get all of the help that you're looking for without having to worry about the stigma or the judgement you might feel otherwise. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting help, but that doesn't mean anyone else needs to know that you're doing it. When you log on to BetterHelp, you'll be able to connect with a therapist that you can feel comfortable with and that you can talk with about anything you're experiencing in your life.

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