How A Behavior Therapist Helps You

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated June 21, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Aaron Horn, LMFT
Feeling Like There Are Certain Behaviors You Want To Change?
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Often, we can change our life by changing small behaviors. Small behaviors, big behaviors, they all matter. 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?

In the simplest terms, a behavioral therapist is someone who practices behavioral therapy? With that said, what is 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 treat you. These therapy types will help you by changing how you act. Some behaviors are unhelpful, unhealthy, and even self-destructive. Behavioral therapy seeks to tackle each one in the easiest way possible.

Behavioral therapy starts with an idea, and that idea is that your behaviors are all learned. They are not some deeply ingrained instinct, but instead they are something that you can change. They theorize that most of the problems you have now are 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, and here are just a few.

Depression

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 is hindering you.

Anxiety

Anxiety is the same deal. 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 other unconscious issues that are affecting you. Either way, anxiety can be treated by modifying bad behaviors. For instance, if you get anxious when around certain people, you can learn how you can change your behavior and feel more comfortable around someone.


Anger Issues

Dealing with an anger issue is hard. Few people have sympathy for your anger, which can boil up and explode. You must look at your behaviors and see which ones can fuel your anger. When you are angry, changing your behaviors can make your anger less destructive. For example, if you're angry, learn to understand what the cause is and what your role is in perpetuating the problem.

Eating Disorders

There are many types of eating disorders that make you gain or lose excessive weight. An eating disorder may make you feel like you have no control over what you eat, but in most cases, your eating disorder is a behavior you can change. For example, you can change how you perceive yourself, and this can help you have higher self-esteem. For example, bulimia involves self-destructive views that you can learn how to change.

PTSD

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 can allow you to live a much better life free from the problems of PTSD.

Phobias

Everyone has their 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. You gradually expose yourself to your fear until you become less desensitized.

Sleeping

Can't sleep? It can be your behaviors that are causing it and fueling it. Not winding down before bed, not discarding all your worrying thoughts… these are just a few ways that your insomnia can be fueled. Knowing what can make your insomnia worse can allow you to live a better, more restful life.

Feeling Like There Are Certain Behaviors You Want To Change?

Substance Abuse

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

Harming Yourself

Self-harm is one of the most concerning behaviors to have. Cutting, hitting yourself, and other self-harming behaviors can make you feel worse in the end. Understanding the source of your frustrations can help you identify which behaviors to change to regain control over your body and mind.

Behavioral therapy is great for children and adults. And there are many types of behavioral therapy one can try. Here are a few types.

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 will 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 by how they play. A therapist can see what the child will express or what they won't. Some children play with others. Other children may play freely by themselves. Sometimes, the therapist may ask the child to express themselves with art. Either way, play therapy is quite interesting.

Systemic Desensitization

This form of therapy is commonly applied for phobia treatment. Someone who has a phobia may rely on systemic desensitization, which borrows from classical conditioning. You are gradually exposed to your phobia. If you're afraid of spiders, you may be shown pictures, videos, and then work your way up until you see a real spider. While you confront smaller levels, you'll learn breathing techniques that can keep you calm and collected.

Aversion Therapy

This is used to treat substance abuse. In it, 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. Often substance abusers have a myriad of stories relating to their drug of choice and how it has impacted them and their families. There are many ways one can treat their substance addiction, and associating what your addiction to something you dislike is a good place to start.

The Effectiveness Of Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is quite effective in treating conditions in people who are motivated to change. As much as 3/4ths of people who have tried behavioral therapy have seen positive results. Of course, you have to put in a lot of hard work. The 1/4 of people studied who didn't see many results may not have been putting much effort into it.

As for play therapy, it's effective in children from toddlers to preteens, but it also can be effective for much older clients.

Child Behavioral Therapy

Before we go, let's talk about child behavioral therapy for a second. This is when you treat children by teaching them how they can have a positive response to certain stimuli. This involves rewarding positive behaviors and ignoring the behaviors you wish to extinguish. The parents will work to make sure that the child is cooperating with the treatment and will take the skills home with them.

Child behavioral therapy requires a lot of time and trust. Children can be naturally distrustful, and the counselor needs to give them time to open up. It's okay 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. Both children and adults with these disorders can see positive results.

Finding A Behavioral Therapist Near You

If you want to change your behavior, there is no shame in seeking therapy. With that said, you can easily find a behavioral therapist near you. Social workers, counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists make good behavioral therapists. When you go to a behavioral therapist, check their qualifications. Do they have all the degrees and licensing needed to practice independently?

You can also ask for recommendations. Your doctor may be able to recommend a therapist for you that will be a good fit. While you're being treated, you can utilize medicines that can help reduce many of the symptoms of your disorder. With that said, medicine does not remove the symptoms. Many insurance providers will pay for therapy as well, and there are often payment plans for those who have little money or no insurance.

With all that said, find a therapist who is right for you. If you can comfortably talk to your therapist, you're in the right place. Talk to several therapists and see which one clicks with you the most. You'll be glad you did.

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