Behavioral Psychology – Treating Behavioural Symtoms and Effects

     Behavioral psychology and therapies use learning principles (examples given below) to eliminate or reduce unwanted reactions to external situations, one’s thoughts and feelings, and ones bodily sensations or functions. Rather than dealing with unconscious conflicts, this therapeutic approach deals with events of which people are aware or can readily become aware of. The therapist teaches the client to replace undesirable responses (fears for example) in their day-to-day living.

     Behavior therapy refers to a collection of techniques based on the principles of classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Behavioral therapy or behavioral psychology differs in several ways from other kinds of therapies.

     First, behavioral therapy is short-term – the goal is to seek the problematic behavior and change it over a brief period of time. Therefore, as psychoanalysis may go on for years, a behavioral therapy will only last a few months or less.

     Second, behavioral therapy seeks to intervene and alleviate symptoms. To a behavioral therapist, the symptom (or the behavior) is the problem that needs to be fixed, not an underlying psychological problem that is producing the symptoms (behaviors). If a person is experiencing anxiety, then the person needs to reduce that anxiety, and if a person experiences depression, then depression needs to be alleviated. For behavioral therapists, looking for deep-seated causes is essentially a waste of time.

     Third, behavioral therapy is very directive. Even though the therapist interacts with the client, it is essentially the therapist who formulates the treatment plan. The client then follows the therapist’s treatment plan, and when the goal is reached the therapy ends.

    Fourth, behavior therapy concentrates on behavior. Other therapies may seek to obtain change through psychological insights and changes, but behavioral therapy seeks to make these changes through the modification of behavior.

     Finally, behavioral therapists try to follow a scientific model and taking an objective point of view.

     There are specific techniques that behavioral therapists use which are found in the below related links.

Related Links

Extinction Procedures
Operant Conditioning
Behavioral Activation