Behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy (talk therapy) where the therapist and the patient work together to change maladaptive cognitions – undesirable or unhealthy behaviors or thoughts. It is based on conversation, and there are several different types of behavioral health therapy – cognitive behavioral therapy, system desensitization, cognitive behavioral play therapy for children, aversion therapy, and more. But the question is, who can benefit from behavioral therapy?
Also known as ABA therapy (applied behavior analysis), behavior therapy focuses on healthy communication and social skills. It also addresses learned skills such as self-sufficiency, punctuality, positive behavior in the workplace, personal hygiene, and more.
Cognitive behavior therapy, in particular, is highly effective in replacing problematic thoughts and behavior patterns with healthy ones in day-to-day living. The main drive of CBT techniques is exploring the relationships between a patient’s behaviors, feelings, and thoughts.
This type of psychotherapy can offer a wide range of benefits.
Benefits of Behavioral Therapy
- Building a support network
Behavior therapy helps individuals build a support network around them. This network can include the person’s loved ones, such as friends and family members, and social workers, their therapist, or any other individual interested in helping them. The first step of treatment is to establish that the patient has someone to turn to if they start experiencing problems. No matter what the issue is – whether a mental health condition or substance abuse, or both – knowing that someone is invested in the patient’s recovery makes a world of difference.
- Increasing self-esteem
A cognitive behavioral therapist will encourage the patient to find answers to their current problems during a CBT session. Since low self-esteem is at the core of many mental health issues, this will show the patient that they can handle their life obstacles, therefore building their self-esteem one solution at a time.
- Creating positive thoughts
Negative thinking comes naturally to many people. Some argue that negative thoughts are the default setting of the human brain for various biological reasons. A behavior therapy session aims to replace these negative thoughts with positive ones that are more realistic.
- Anger management
One of the problematic behaviors that treatment seeks to improve is anger. Patients often feel shame or guilt related to their mental disorder, and these emotions can manifest in anger or even rage. CBT addresses the underlying cause of irritation and teaches the patient to handle their feelings before becoming overwhelming. There are various techniques to control emotional responses and recognize the root cause of the anger someone feels.
- Improving communication skills
As mentioned above, this type of treatment emphasizes healthy communication. When a person is suffering from anxiety, depression, or a substance abuse disorder, it can be challenging to maintain relationships. CBT teaches patients how to better communicate their feelings without being ashamed or getting angry.
- Improving coping skills
Bottling things up – especially in the face of trauma – only leads to more hurt and anger. Behavioral therapy helps in expressing feelings and offers new avenues for dealing with stressful situations. This is particularly useful when handling grief.
- Preventing relapse
Finally, this type of therapy provides patients with the tools they need to prevent relapse. Through continual work with a CBT therapist, individuals learn how to identify thought patterns they need to avoid relapse in the future.
Who can benefit from behavioral therapy?
With all the useful tools for handling behavioral and mental illness mentioned in the list above (and more!), it is no wonder that behavioral therapy can help a wide range of disorders.
CBT is most commonly used to treat:
- Panic disorder
- Anxiety (generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and others)
- Anger problems
It can also prove useful in the following mental health conditions:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Substance abuse
- Bipolar disorder
- Eating disorders
- Phobias, including social phobias
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Aside from all of these, cognitive therapy can also be used to treat chronic pain, in combination with other pain management methods. It can provide pain relief by helping the patient change their perception of pain and assign better context to their discomfort. It can also reduce stress, allowing the body’s natural pain relief system to function better.
CBT has also shown mild to moderate effectiveness in children with an autism spectrum disorder and people with a borderline personality disorder. It is a powerful asset when combined with other forms of treatment in these complex cases.
Is behavioral therapy right for you?
Behavioral therapy is also a good option for mentally and physically healthy individuals struggling a bit in their daily lives. It is a talk therapy approach that reinforces positive behavior and teaches essential life skills that everyone can benefit from.
If you are suffering from any of the conditions mentioned above, it won’t hurt to seek advice from a mental health expert. Your primary healthcare provider will offer more advice on this subject and refer you to the right specialist.
Overall, CBT is not harmful in any way. It has a high chance of helping you, and it won’t cause any problems with other forms of therapy or medication you’re already taking.
Behavioral therapy can bring you numerous benefits: from improved problem-solving skills to higher self-esteem, to better-coping mechanisms, to healthier ways of communication, and similar. It is a useful treatment program for a range of disorders, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, addiction, eating disorders, and more.
CBT can also help treat chronic pain and autism spectrum disorders in children, especially if they develop depression or anxiety.
There are no downsides to undergoing this type of therapy – even otherwise, healthy individuals can improve their daily life through this form of psychotherapy.
If you’d like to see whether behavioral therapy is right for you, feel free to contact The Right Way Recovery. We will be glad to offer more information on the subject and help you find the right therapist in your particular case. Don’t hesitate to reach out!