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5 Common Types of Behavioral Therapy

Five Common Approaches in Modern Behavioral Therapy

  • Behavior Management
  • Behavior Modification
  • Contingency Management
  • Observational Learning
  • Modeling

Behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is mainly used to help correct disagreeable or harmful behaviors or attitudes in the individual. While the science behind this work is extensive, there are a number of common approaches used in behavioral therapy that the layperson can certainly observe and generally understand. Here are five of the most common approaches seen at use in the discipline today.

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1. Behavior Management

As its name suggests, the behavior management approach to behavioral therapy is all about managing behaviors and emotions. Interestingly enough, while therapists may deeply understand and be able to instill this approach in clients to some limited capacity, teachers and parents are actually the primary users of this approach. This is because behavior management is all about the use of various prompts and cues to curtail undesirable behaviors while encouraging other, more positive ones.

2. Behavior Modification

Behavior modification is very similar to the above-described behavior management approach. While both approaches utilize the use of positive and negative reinforcements in order to shape behavior and attitude, behavior modification does so in the pursuit of the very specific goal to manage “order” in behaviors and attitudes. “Order” here refers to psychological balance and well-being. Within this approach also reside several other techniques including shading, extinction, chaining, and fading.

3. Contingency Management

Contingency management is a type of behavioral therapy that is primarily used in cases of drug and alcohol addiction, although it can sometimes be useful in other cases as well. Here, this approach also relies on the common, positive-negative reinforcement systems but with much greater complexity due to the aligns of substance abuse and addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse cites prize and voucher systems as some of those mechanisms craftily set up and used to help shape new patterns in many drug and alcohol recovery programs.

4. Observational Learning

Observational learning is the learning and adaptation of new skills, attitudes, patterns, and behaviors that is reliant on observation and then self attempts at the same. Sometimes, observation is just the very powerful and natural ingredient needed to help someone to see a new and healthier way to do things, act, and feel. An actual therapist can help to administer this mode of learning and change through a variety of methods including the use of scenarios and role-play and the assignment of activities that help provide the patient with observational learning opportunities.

5. Modeling

Modeling is yet another common but very valuable tool in behavioral therapy. This approach uses many of the same elements as does observational learning but focuses more acutely on the utilization of role-play specifically. In this approach, the therapist may role-play, or model, and may or may not even use verbal communication during the process. Imitation of action is the core focus here, from which, new behavioral cues and patterns can subsequently become instilled.

Countless people benefit from the professional practice of behavioral therapy every day across the globe. With a trained therapist and proper technique, many problems can be solved and thus lives dramatically improved. These five approaches are some of those commonly seen in behavioral therapy today.