What Is A Behavioral Therapist, And What Do They Do?

By: Robert Porter

Updated October 14, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault

Sometimes people will exhibit behaviors that are not desirable. Certain negative behaviors may wind up complicating your life, and it can benefit you to address these behaviors by seeking out therapy. Therapists are very important when it comes to treating different mental health conditions. For some people, behavioral Therapy can help to improve their quality of life.

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If you do not know much about what behavioral Therapy is and what it can do, you may benefit from learning a bit more about it. This is a very important style of Therapy that many people make use of all the time. It helps many who are experiencing anxiety or depression that is interfering with their daily functioning. This Therapy is also important for treating many other mental health conditions, so it is good to understand what it brings to the table.

What Is Behavioral Therapy?

Behavioral Therapy is a type of therapy that seeks to identify potentially harmful behaviors to change them. An example of this would be someone who has an eating disorder. If someone lives with anorexia nervosa and severely limits their caloric intake, it could lead to dangerous health problems. Behavioral Therapy works to help people recognize behaviors that are negatively impacting their lives so that they can change them.

Behavioral Therapy is significantly different from many other forms of Therapy. Many therapy styles are about psychoanalysis and making observations about the patient. Some behavioral therapists also take those approaches, but all behavioral therapy styles will be at least partially action-based. This type of therapy focuses on changing a patient's behavior patterns to something that is going to be healthier for them in the long term.

You also need to know that there are several different styles of Behavioral Therapy. These different categories all have similarities, and some therapists may even practice multiple types of Therapy. Even so, these categories are distinct from one another. Each of the different behavioral therapy styles has a different approach that you can benefit from for different reasons.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (or CBT) is one of the most common types of Therapy. This is a therapy type that is all about combining behavioral therapy techniques with cognitive therapy. This means that the therapy style focuses on how people's thoughts impact their actions. When a person thinks a certain way, they will experience certain actions based on their moods.

Much of this Therapy is about figuring out the negative thoughts that may be causing problems in people's lives. For example, someone may have an extreme fear of driving. They may spend a lot of time thinking about car crashes and the potential of getting injured while driving. Challenging these thoughts can help an individual to better cope in situations where they need to drive.

For cognitive-behavioral therapy to be effective, individuals need to recognize that they need to change their cognition. You may not control the world around you, but you can control how you think about what is going on. Addressing unhelpful thought patterns can help alleviate the symptoms of various mental illnesses.

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Cognitive-behavioral therapists can help many patients who experience anxiety or depression. This is also a great type of Therapy for people who have eating disorders or substance use disorders. There are many other subsets and techniques within the cognitive behavioral therapy umbrella as well. This is an essential type of Therapy that many people can benefit from.

Applied Behavioral Analysis, System Desensitization, And General Conditioning Therapy

Conditioning therapy is at the core of Behavioral Therapy. System desensitization can be used to help people who are experiencing phobias. Patients can learn to become desensitized to certain things to improve their mental health. It is possible to learn to replace your feelings of fear with ones of calm and relaxation.

This branch of behavioral Therapy often involves breathing exercises. Patients can learn to control their breathing and to take their minds to a very calm place. Once the breathing and relaxation exercises have been mastered, the therapist may start exposing the patient to something they fear. Over time, the patient should stop associating these things with fear, anxiety, or other negative emotions.

Applied behavior analysis allows patients to condition themselves to modify various behaviors. All of this is related because it simply makes use of the core concepts of conditioning therapy. When a patient is conditioned to change their response to certain situations or stimuli, it can lead to positive results. This can be used to help people with fears, anger issues, anxiety, and much more.

Aversion Therapy

Aversion therapy is another type of behavioral therapy that can be useful in certain situations. Many individuals with substance use disorders use aversion therapy to help them change their habits. This Therapy involves teaching people to associate certain habits with extremely negative events in their life. If a person is alcohol dependent, they may learn to associate drinking with a very bad event from the past. This will lead to them wanting to avoid drinking altogether.

This has proven to be a very effective therapy method that can help people to change their actions. It is commonly used to treat substance use disorders of all kinds. When combined with other treatment methods, it can be a great way to help someone maintain sobriety.

How Can A Behavioral Therapist Help Me?

A behavioral therapist can assist an individual in the challenges they may be facing. This type of therapy is most often used to help treat depression and anxiety disorders. People can learn to change the way that they react to certain things in life. This can improve attitudes that may also manifest positive changes in a patient's mental health.

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People who experience severe anger or anxiety often have triggers that evoke a strong reaction. Learning to recognize these triggers for what they are can change how you will react to them. Simple therapy methods like taking yourself out of the situation or learning not to lash out in anger can be very effective.

Behavioral Therapy can teach patients to use many coping mechanisms to help them deal with situations more effectively. People may start distracting themselves to keep negative thoughts at bay. Some may even try to replace negative thoughts or actions with positive ones.

This type of therapy can also treat PTSD, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, ADHD, various phobias, OCD, and so much more. Learning to change how you react to certain stressors and triggers can profoundly impact your life. If you are experiencing concerns around your mental health, consider reaching out to a behavioral therapist today.

Behavioral Therapy Online

Behavioral Therapy is also available online as a convenient and affordable option for accessing support. Through BetterHelp, you can connect to a licensed therapist who can assist you in addressing your concerns. From there, you can determine what goals you want to focus on to move towards a healthier and happier life.


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