Behavioral therapy is a treatment that helps change
potentially self-destructing behaviors. It is also called behavioral modification or cognitive
behavioral therapy. Medical professionals use this type of therapy to
replace bad habits with good ones. The therapy also helps you cope with
difficult situations. It is most often used to treat anxiety disorders.
However, you don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder to
What Is Behavioral Therapy Used For?
Behavioral therapy is used
by psychotherapists, psychiatrists, and other qualified medical professionals. It
is usually used to help treat anxiety and mood disorders. These include:
stress disorder (PTSD)
- social phobia
- bipolar disorder
This treatment can help
patients cope with certain mental disorders. It can also be used to treat:
- substance abuse
- eating disorders
This therapy is also used on
patients with chronic diseases to help manage pain. For example, cancer
patients use learned techniques to better cope with radiation therapy. Doctors
often recommend behavioral modification to pregnant women who can’t safely take
medications. This form of treatment can also help with emotional grief.
Therapists create treatment
plans specifically tailored to individual conditions. Some exercises may
about coping mechanisms
- role playing
- breathing and
- activities to
- journal writing
- social skills
- modifications in
responses to anger, fear, and pain
Therapists sometimes ask patients
to think about situations that scare them. The goal is not to frighten them but
to help them develop different coping skills.
The general benefit is
increased quality of life. Specific benefits vary depending on what condition is
being treated. These can include:
incidents of self-harm
- improved social
functioning in unfamiliar situations
- less outbursts
- better pain
- ability to
recognize the need for medical help
Risks of Behavioral Therapy
The goal of behavioral
therapy is to limit self-harm. The risks for this treatment are minimal. Some
patients consider the emotional aspects of the sessions risky. Exploring
feelings and anxieties can cause bursts of crying and anger. The emotional
aftermath of therapy can be physically exhausting and painful. A therapist will
help to improve coping mechanisms and to minimize any side effects from
Preparing for Behavioral Therapy
Generally, a primary
physician or neurologist will refer patients to another doctor who specializes
in behavioral therapy. Some psychotherapists also perform these treatments.
Always check the credentials of your therapist. A credible behavioral therapist
should have a degree as well as a license or certification.
Because therapy sessions are
frequent, it is important that the patient and doctor get on well. Patients can
request a consultation before beginning treatment.
Therapy sessions can become
a financial burden. Some insurance providers do cover behavioral therapy. Others
may only grant a portion of the costs or allot a certain number of sessions per
year. Before beginning therapy, patients should discuss the coverage with your
health insurance company and create a payment plan.
Behavioral therapy is not a
cure for any condition. It is a teaching method to help cope with everyday
life. Depending on individual needs, a
person may only need it on a short-term basis. The exact length of a treatment
plan depends on individual goals and progress made.
During treatment it is
important to continue taking any medications as prescribed by a doctor. Some
research shows that learned techniques in therapy may gradually reduce the need
for medicine. However, each case is different. Speak with a doctor if treatment
doesn’t seem to be working.