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An estimated 1/5 of American adults (over 46 million people) have some form of mental illness. As if these numbers weren’t high enough, experts are noticing spikes in conditions like depression and anxiety. This is due to the novel Coronavirus, civil unrest, and other high-stress social issues compounding on each other.
If you or someone you love is struggling right now, it’s important to get outside support. Therapy treatments like behavioral counseling can teach you to reframe your thoughts and actions. Over time, this can help you live a healthier and more peaceful life.
You don’t have to face mental illness alone. To learn more about behavioral therapy and whether it might be the right choice for you, keep reading.
What Is Behavioral Therapy?
The Tabula Rasa theory of development posits that babies enter the world as a “blank slate”. From the time we’re born, we learn how to behave by observing the environment around us. If that environment isn’t healthy, we’ll learn negative behaviors instead of positive ones.
Behavioral counseling is an action-based approach to therapy that’s based on these principles. If a person is struggling with irrational behaviors, the therapist will help them avoid it and replace it with a healthy one. This method focuses less on the why of behaviors and more on creating immediate change.
Behavioral Therapy Techniques
Therapists practice behavioral counseling using one of the three main techniques.
Applied behavior analysis is the purest form of behavioral therapy. This treatment uses a reward-based system to promote positive actions over negative ones.
When the patient needs an outside perspective, social learning therapy comes into play. This method involves watching others make choices and observing the positive or negative consequences.
For someone whose disordered thinking drives their negative actions, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) might be most effective. This technique identifies problematic behaviors and the thoughts that lead to them. The focus is on reframing our perceptions of the world around us, thereby reframing our responses to that world.
Behavioral therapists use a variety of techniques within these methods. They include:
- Behavior modeling
- Aversion therapy
- Classical or operant conditioning
- Token economy
- Peer intervention or group therapy
Each person’s mental health needs are unique. Your therapist will decide which of these methods—if any—is the best approach for you.
What Conditions Can Behavioral Counseling Address?
Behavioral treatments can address any mental health issue that presents with troublesome behaviors. These can include:
- Substance abuse disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders
- Severe phobias
- Anger management
- Eating disorders
These conditions are all responsive to action-based treatment. Some experts even claim that addiction treatment should always include behavioral therapy, even if it’s assisted by medication.
This type of counseling isn’t the best approach for every mental illness, though. Depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and bipolar disorder tend to respond better to psychoanalytic methods. Behavioral therapy can still be useful, but only as a supporting treatment.
Is Behavioral Treatment Right for You?
Do you think behavioral counseling could help in your situation? If so, don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist in your area and discuss your treatment options. It could be the most important step you take toward living a healthier, happier life that isn’t bound by mental illness or addiction.
Looking for more ways to look after your mental, emotional, and physical well-being? Be sure to read through the other articles on our site.