Behavior Therapy

Behavior therapy is a melding of the application of the principles of learning theory to the analysis and treatment of behavior. It involves more than principles of learning and uses the empirical findings of social and experimental psychology. The emphasis is upon the client's present behavior that is causing distress and disruption in the client's life. The therapist's job is to observe the client's behavior, discuss the maladaptive patterns of behavior with the client, and help the client to go about changing the behavior.

The client's past history, feelings, emotional states, and unresolved experiences are not the focus of the work. If working with a client who has specific phobias, graded exposure, or a systematic desensitization program is often created to help the patient enter previously feared situations. The therapist will most likely teach an anxious client relaxation techniques and increase coping skills. There are various behavior therapies.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dr. Marsha Linehan developed DBT for patients struggling with chronic suicidal behaviors. It's based on the idea that psychosocial treatment of those with borderline personality disorder (a disorder with symptoms of high anxiety) was as important in controlling the condition as traditional psychotherapy and medication were.

Along with this belief came a pattern of treatment goals. Foremost among these was reducing self-injuring/suicidal behavior; following that came decreasing behaviors that interfered with the therapy or treatment process; and finally, downgrading behaviors that lessened the client's quality of life.

Rational-Emotive Therapy

Founded by Albert Ellis, rational-emotive therapy is highly action-oriented and deals with the client's cognitive and ethical state. The therapy emphasizes the client's ability to think on his own, and in his ability to change. The rational-emotive therapist believes that people are born with the ability of rational thinking but that we may fall victim to irrational thinking.

The therapist will use directed therapy. The therapist believes that a neurosis is a result of irrational behavior and irrational thinking. The rational-emotive therapist believes the client's problems are rooted in childhood and in his beliefs that were formed early on. Therapy will include method solving and dealing with emotional or behavior problems. The therapist will help the client eliminate any self-defeating outlooks they may have and to view life in a rational way.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapies are a melding of the cognitive therapies that were formulated from cognitive therapy, whose focus is helping people change their thought patterns, and the classical behavioral therapies, such as operant conditioning, where change in behavior is the primary goal. Both therapies emphasize that change can take place without having deep insight into one's behavior.

In CBT, it is thinking patterns that cause symptoms. Changing how you think about yourself, your attitudes and beliefs, and the situation you are in will relieve troubling symptoms. Learning how to face life in a confident and calm manner will help to change your behavior.

CBT has shown to be effective in treating panic disorders, phobias, chronic anxiety, and worry. It is short-term therapy and cost effective and is the preferred therapy today for treating anxiety and depression, and many other emotional conditions and life problems.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

In the late 1970s, Richard Bandler, a mathematician, and John Grinder, a linguist, collaborated on bringing a new methodology to the discipline of studying and working with human behavior. Based on the advances made in information technology, particularly computer programming, and the science of language, Bandler and Grinder founded NLP techniques that enable you to use your own mind to make changes in your thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and ultimately emotions and behaviors. These changes, they propose, will stop self-defeating behaviors and enable you to fulfill your life potential.


Neurosis is an unconscious maladaptive mental condition that causes anxiety, conflicts in life, obsessions, compulsions, and phobias. Freud believed that neurosis was caused by unconscious defense mechanisms used to ward off anxiety due to unconscious conflicts. Neurosis is a term no longer used in the DSM-IV to define mental disorders.

Bandler and Grinder investigated how people experience the world through the five senses: visual (mental images), auditory (sound), kinesthetic (touch and emotions), gustatory (taste), and olfactory (smell). They examined how these experiences become the memories and images we carry around in our heads, and how these mental pictures affect our emotions and behavior.

They studied individuals who were successful, unafraid, etc., and analyzed through complex methods how these people interpreted experiences, life events, other people, etc., to account for their positive, capable behavior, compared to others who had negative reactions. Bandler and Grinder then devised techniques that often only take a few minutes, which allow anyone to change negative mental pictures, feelings, and behavior into positive thoughts, emotions, and behavior.

NLP is presently used by people who want to reach high levels of performance; in psychotherapy to treat anxiety, phobias and depression; as a self-help method; and in business and industry to increase productivity and attain success.

  1. Home
  2. Controlling Anxiety
  3. Talk Therapy
  4. Behavior Therapy
Visit other sites: