Behavioral therapy is a treatment that helps change potentially self-destructing behaviors. Behavior therapy does not involve one specific method but it has a wide range of techniques that can be used to treat a person’s psychological problems. An important feature of behavioral therapy is its focus on current problems and behavior, and on attempts to remove behavior the patient finds troublesome.
When it comes to treating specific behavioral issues, behavioral therapy can often be more effective than other approaches. Phobias, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are examples of problems that respond well to behavioral treatments.
The two basic principles that contribute to behavioral therapy are:
Classical conditioning – Classical conditioning happens when a neutral stimulus comes right before another stimulus that triggers a reflexive response. The idea is that if the neutral stimulus and whatever other stimulus that triggers a response is paired together often enough that the neutral stimulus will produce the reflexive response. Examples include:
- Systematic Desensitization
- Aversion Therapy
Operant conditioning – Operant conditioning has to do with rewards and punishments and how they can either strengthen or weaken certain behaviors. Examples include:
- Token Economies
- Contingency Management