Basics of Expanding Horizons Through Behavioral Therapy
When it comes to initiating major, lasting changes in your life, one of the secrets of success is a series of minor modifications, as opposed to a single, major overhaul. This is why behavioral therapy is a practice that many individuals and groups turn to when seeking transformation. In the midst of all of this training and transformation, the overwhelming emphasis is on yielding day-to-day improvements in behavior. For those new to the concept of behavioral therapy or behavioral counseling, it is – by definition – a variety of psychotherapy that focuses efforts on providing personal training in:
- Strengthening social skills.
- Providing problem-solving pointers.
- Big-picture scheduling strategies.
- Developing discipline and self-control.
Conditions That Can Be Effectively Managed by Behavioral Therapy
While just about anyone can find ways to benefit from behavioral therapy, there are specific psychological conditions that are well suited to these treatment methods. These conditions include but are not limited to attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and certain addictions and addictive behaviors. Of course, while these are the ideal conditions to treat, those suffering from chronic fatigue, phobias and even insomnia have also seen astonishing results under the care of a behavioral therapist. In some cases, behavioral therapy has even been used to break the cycle of obesity and overeating.
How Behavioral Therapy Works
Generally, the first step in behavioral therapy begins with an initial consult and analysis with a chosen behavioral therapist or professional. During the course of your first meeting, you will be analyzed and observed in an effort to identify stressors, behaviors that are sabotaging your happiness and other triggers. After this analysis has been completed, the next step in the process is for the therapist to decide upon which specific treatment technique will be most suited to your individual needs.
Behavioral therapy is also sometimes referred to as behavior modification because its basis lies in the assumption that a person’s emotional problems – just like any other behavior – are actually nothing more than a learned response to their environment and, as such, can be effectively unlearned. This differs from psychodynamic therapies because there is no focus or emphasis on coming to an understanding or unearthing the unconscious motivations that may lie behind the behavior or behaviors in question. In essence, this means that your behavioral therapist isn’t going to waste time trying to find out exactly why you act the way you do, instead, they’re going to focus their time and attention on bringing about a change in your behavior.
Typical Techniques in Behavioral Therapy Sessions
There are a multitude of potential techniques that a behavioral therapist may employ. One of these techniques is the use of what is called behavioral homework, in which a therapist will offer alternatives and ways to respond differently to day-to-day situations that may break the cycle of a learned, repetitive behavior. Another example of a popular behavioral therapy treatment is contingency contracting. This begins with a verbal or written contract that discusses a patient’s desired behaviors and includes both positive and negative reinforcements geared towards bringing about change. Modeling, rehearsed behavior, skills training techniques, systematic desensitization, flooding, progressive relaxation and conditioning are other alternative treatments in the realm of behavioral therapy and modification.
Furthermore, your therapist may decide upon a particular branch of behavioral therapy known as cognitive-behavioral therapy, which combines certain features of behavioral modification with the traditional approach of cognitive restructuring which deals with both motives and emotions.