What is the idea behind Behavioral Therapy?

Behavioral, or behavior, therapy places emphasis on the idea that behaviors are learned through a person’s experience with the environment. The environment includes other people (friends, family, teachers, etc.), objects, and events. During life, a person’s behavior produces positive or negative consequences, which influence the way a person acts, feels, and thinks. 

Mental health issues may begin when someone either knowingly or unknowingly learns and engages in a pattern of behavior that is  unhelpful in the long run. Such issues can include phobias, general anxiety, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, and addictions are present predominately due to repeatedly escaping or avoiding situations in which discomfort arises (uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, sensations, urges, and memories) which then impact a major life domain (relationships, work/occupational, and/or school life). Although one receives “relief from grief” in the short term and this relief may temporarily feel good, long term consequences may be life hampering and lead to more concerns. 

Behavior therapy seeks to address these issues by helping individuals acquire, use, and maintain skills that allow for healthier responses to life’s challenges. By approaching, rather than escaping or avoiding, people learn how to confront difficulties in a new, more adaptive way.