What Are The Different Types Of Behavioral Therapy?

By: Samantha Dewitt

Updated January 28, 2021

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, 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 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

CBT 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 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 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. Especially if you're struggling with anxiety disorders, stress, bulimia, anger problems, depression, or substance abuse, 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, therapy 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. Online companies like BetterHelp are one way that you can get all of the help that you're looking for.

In fact, a recent publication looked at several different studies to examine whether CBT was comparable on a computer versus face-to-face. The authors found that it online CBT 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 may be appealing to everyone, regardless of where they live. For example, an online option means no wait list and the ability to see a counselor anywhere you’re comfortable, as long as you have internet access. Researchers note that online therapy also offers confidentiality, whereas face-to-face therapy does not. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists, from people facing a range of life’s challenges.

Counselor Reviews

“Lisa is fantastic, she approaches all of my concerns with appropriate questions and comments, I think her and I connect really well. I was concerned because I am a college girl and sometimes it can be difficult to connect with counselors because many can take things to[o] serious or not remember the day to day struggles but Lisa completely validates my college concerns.” Read more about Lisa Masri

“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.”


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