How A Behavior Therapist Can Help You

Updated June 17, 2024by MyTherapist Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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Feeling like there are certain behaviors you want to change?

Often, we can change our life by changing our behaviors. Small behaviors, big behaviors, they all matter, whether it's deciding to change the time we get up each morning or to quit smoking or drinking. Sometimes, changing even the most insignificant behavior can yield positive results. Of course, some behaviors require therapy to change, and today, we will be looking at behavioral therapy and behavioral therapists to see how they can change your life.

What is a behavioral therapist?

A behavioral therapist is someone who practices behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy is not just one type of therapy; it's an umbrella term, meaning it covers different therapy types that are all designed to alter your behaviors. Some of your behaviors may be unhelpful, some may be unhealthy, and some may even be self-destructive. Behavioral therapy seeks to tackle each one in the most effective way possible.

Behavioral therapy starts with the idea that your behaviors are all learned; they are not deeply ingrained instincts, but instead, they are something that you can change. Behavioral therapists theorize that most of the problems you have may be due to your own behaviors, and by understanding those behaviors and changing them, you can improve your life.

What behavioral therapy can treat

Behavioral therapy can treat many different types of issues, including the following.


Depression can be caused by many factors, from a life situation to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Depression can sometimes be treated by changing how you behave. For example, if you end up losing all motivation when you're depressed, it can make depression worse. A therapist may teach you how you can stay motivated even when your depression may be hindering you.


There are many different types of behaviors that can cause your anxiety to flare up. Sometimes there are conscious triggers, and other times there are unconscious issues affecting you. Either way, anxiety can be treated by modifying negative behaviors. For instance, if you get anxious when around certain people, you can learn how you can change your behavior to feel more comfortable around someone.

Anger issues

Dealing with an anger issue can be tricky. Few people have sympathy for your anger, which can boil up and explode without notice. You must look at your behaviors and see which ones fuel your anger. When you are angry, changing your behaviors can make your anger less destructive. You can learn to understand what the cause of any anger you may be feeling is and what your role is in perpetuating the problem. Then you can respond in a different way to the situation.

Eating disorders

There are many types of eating disorders that make you gain or lose excessive weight. Someone with an eating disorder seeks control but may not feel they can let go of negative behaviors relating to food. In most cases, however, behaviors associated with eating disorders can be changed. For example, bulimia involves self-destructive views that can be changed with behavioral therapy. By changing self-perception, self-esteem can be improved. With improved self-esteem, eating behaviors can be tackled.


When you go through trauma, it can be difficult to treat the symptoms after they appear. Sometimes, your behaviors can worsen your PTSD. Figuring out what your triggers are and learning how to better cope with them—perhaps even prevent them—can allow you to live a much better life, free from the problems of PTSD.


Many people have irrational phobias, but you can treat them through behavioral therapy. For example, if you're scared of spiders, exposure therapy may be a good idea. With this type of therapy, you gradually expose yourself to your fear until you become desensitized. (This is also known as systemic desensitization.)


Lack of sleep can cause all sorts of mental and physical health concerns. It might even be your behaviors that are causing the lack of sleep and perpetuating it. Not winding down before bed, not discarding all your worrying thoughts… these are just a few ways that your insomnia can be fueled. Correcting your bedtime routine can allow you to live a better, more restful life.

Feeling like there are certain behaviors you want to change?

Substance misuse

Getting off drugs or alcohol can be difficult, but you can reduce your chances of relapse and withdrawal effects by changing your behaviors. Substance abuse may be curbed by modifying a few behaviors, such as identifying and avoiding certain triggers that may lead to the abuse itself or to relapse.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Also known as CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most popular tools used in counseling. It looks at how someone's thoughts and beliefs impact their behavior. The goal is to gradually change your thinking and your behavior into something that's healthier. For example, if you are depressed, you must learn how to replace your self-defeating thoughts and actions with something more positive. This can be a valuable tool in fighting depression.

Play therapy

This is a form of CBT that is used with children. A child's behavior can be observed while they play. A therapist can see what the child is able to express and what they aren't. Some children play well with others. Other children play more freely by themselves. All types of play can elicit a great deal of information about what makes a child tick. Sometimes, the therapist may ask the child to express themselves with art. Through play therapy, a child can work through any problems they may be having at home or at school.

Aversion therapy

This is often used to treat substance abuse. Through aversion therapy, you learn to associate the drug or alcohol with something that is unpleasant. You may learn how to associate alcohol with a bad memory or a disgusting substance you don't like. There are many ways one can treat a substance addiction and associating what you're addicted to with something you dislike can help you change your behaviors.

The effectiveness of behavioral therapy

Behavioral therapy is quite effective in treating conditions in people who are motivated to change. As much as 75% of people who have tried behavioral therapy have seen positive results. Of course, you must put in a lot of hard work and effort to see success with behavioral therapy.

Child behavioral therapy

Behavioral therapy is a popular and effective way of helping children who are struggling with behavior issues. This type of therapy teaches children how they can have a positive response to certain stimuli. This involves rewarding positive behaviors and ignoring the behaviors you wish to extinguish. Parents work with a therapist to make sure that the child is cooperating with the treatment and often practice the skills learned in therapy at home.

Child behavioral therapy requires a lot of time and trust. Some children can be naturally distrustful, and their therapist will need to give them time to open up. It's normal for a child to act like this, and most children will eventually warm up and express themselves freely. There are many disorders that behavioral therapy can help, including autism and ADHD. In fact, both children and adults with these disorders can see positive results for behavior therapy.

Speak with a behavior therapist online

If you want to change your behavior, there is no shame in seeking therapy. A lot of behaviors which you may find unhelpful or unhealthy can be changed with some support and a lot of work.

These days, you have many options when considering therapy. You can see a therapist in a physical office, getting recommendations from your primary physician, talking to your insurance company (this type of therapy may be covered by your policy), or asking for recommendations from friends and family. If you're seeking help for your child, their school may have therapists they recommend.

Online behavioral therapy can also be effective for helping to turn around many of the issues described above. Online therapy is often more convenient than in-person therapy, and it may also be an affordable way to get help if your insurance won't cover it.

BetterHelp is an online therapy platform boasting licensed therapists who can help with all sorts of mental health concerns. Signing up is easy—just answer some questions, then you will be matched with a therapist uniquely trained to help you. You can chat with your therapist via text, telephone, or on a video call—whichever is most comfortable for you.


You can change unwanted behaviors—and you don’t have to do it alone. A BetterHelp therapist can walk you through the process step by step and give you all the support you need to be successful.

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