Behavioral therapy: principle, process and effect

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Behavioral therapy: principle, process and effect

Are you undergoing psychotherapeutic treatment due to a mental illness or severe emotional stress? In most cases, behavioral therapy will help you. The psychologist will teach you methods to help you cope better with your problems. The treatment takes the form of detailed discussions. Basically, you get a Instructions for self-help.

What is behavioral therapy and how can it help you?

Behavioral therapy is the most commonly used form of therapy. Procedure in psychotherapy. As the name suggests, the method aims to bring about a positive change in your behavior. It is based on the observation that various learning processes shape our lives. Negative and positive experiences reduce or reinforce certain behaviors.

Mental disorders are therefore often caused by learning the wrong behaviors. Behavioral therapy ensures that you are able to get rid of bad habits by unlearning them. By adopting new behaviors and attitudes, eating disorders and anxiety, for example, can be overcome.

Common areas of application for behavioral therapy

The mental disorders that can be treated with behavioral therapy are diverse nature. Behavioral therapy is often used in combination with medication. This method is recommended, for example, for

  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Fears
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Borderline
  • Burnout
  • Addictive disorders

Did you know? Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses. On average, around 15 percent of women and 9 percent of men suffer from it every year. Susceptibility increases with age. Around one in five women between the ages of 55 and 59 is affected. The female sex tends to be more likely to develop depression.

Understanding the basics of cognitive behavioral therapy

As a rule, the psychotherapist uses cognitive behavioral therapy. It is cognitive because it is based on cognitivism, a learning theory that emerged in the 1960s. You develop the ability to observe yourself. In technical jargon, this is called "introspection". With the help of introspection, you counteract erroneous tendencies in remembering, thinking, perceiving and judging and thus cognitive distortions.

At the heart of cognitive behavioral therapy are cognitions, which include thoughts, beliefs, evaluations and attitudes. The way you think determines the way you feel and influences both your behavior and your physical reactions.

cognitive behavioral therapy

What is cognitive behavioral therapy? A deeper insight

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the active shaping of perception, because the subjective view determines behavior. The therapy has the following focal points:

  • Recognizing cognitions
  • Checking cognitions for their appropriateness
  • Correction of irrational attitudes
  • Transferring the corrected attitudes to concrete behavior

Procedure of cognitive behavioral therapy

On Start of therapy The first step is a conversation in which you describe your problems to the therapist. This is followed by an analysis of the problem, taking into account your thoughts, feelings and physical state. In some cases, your environment will also be involved, for example your family, friends and work colleagues.

SORKG model for problem analysis

The SORKG model facilitates the search for the causes of the problem. The letters stand for:

  • S: Stimulus, the internal and external stimulus situation that triggers the undesired behavior
  • O: organism, the initial learning history and individual situation and the reaction to the stimulus.
  • R: Reaction, the behavior in response to the stimulus and the processing in the organism
  • C: Contingency, the temporal succession of behavior
  • C: Consequence, the punishment or reward and consequently the reinforcement as a consequence of the behavior

The problem analysis is followed by the definition of therapy goals. The therapist will suggest a number of methods for you to choose from. In behavioral therapy, you learn which behavioral patterns are causing the problems and develop ways to eliminate them. In order to bring about the desired changes, it is not absolutely necessary to find out the causes that triggered the problem. A cure is often possible even without analyzing the origins of the problem.

Behavioral therapy: where to find professional help

For psychological problems, behavioral therapy offers Nearby Advantages. In general, there are psychotherapists in all major cities. It is therefore possible to start behavioral therapy in Berlin or behavioral therapy in Hamburg without any problems. As a rule, health insurance companies cover the costs. You can get a referral from your family doctor.

Behavioral therapy: your options for support

As already mentioned, you will receive the necessary support from a psychological psychotherapist. As the aim of behavioral therapy is to make you happier in the long term and prevent relapses, self-help is very important. You learn to use the methods and strategies to deal with recurring difficulties and overcome the hurdles without a therapist. However, it is often helpful to have a coach at your side, especially in the initial phase.

5 ways behavioral therapy can influence your mindset and happiness

Ideally, behavioral therapy will make you a happier person. The method offers you the following benefits:

1. more life satisfaction

In most cases, a positive change in character leads to more success in your private and professional life. If you get rid of your bad habits, you will no longer block yourself and will realize your full potential. Eliminating stressful mental disorders will help you achieve greater happiness and health.

2. better self-confidence

Behavioral therapy aims to give you more self-confidence. You get to know your strengths and work on your weaknesses. This makes you strong and confident.

3. self-reflection

Behavioral therapy gives you the chance to reflect on and evaluate your actions. The therapist shows you your mistakes and you learn to do better. Recognizing your own weaknesses is one of the most important tasks of this method. Only when you know what you are lacking can you correct this deficiency.

4. getting to know other points of view

You leave the beaten track and get to know yourself from a completely new perspective. You know that you are strong enough to solve your problems yourself with the help of the therapist. Embracing other experiences requires a little courage at the beginning. But it is worth it.

5. improve your charisma

If you take part in behavioral therapy, people around you will also notice. You behave more appropriately in many situations and have a positive charisma. In behavioral therapy, you learn to correct mistakes in your dealings with others, to control yourself better and to approach others.

The role of coaching in complementing behavioral therapy

In and of itself, behavioral therapy is a type of coaching because it aims to encourage you to help yourself. However, the psychotherapist takes a more professional approach to the mental illness in question and also has the necessary specialist knowledge. Nevertheless, it is good to have an additional coach at your side to support you in adhering to the therapeutic guidelines and to be available to you as a contact person.

It is often the coach who points out to their client that there are serious symptoms behind their personal problems that should be dealt with by a specialist. This is the case, for example, with severe depression or burnout. In order to be able to achieve positive change with the help of coaching, the psychological prerequisites must be right. Mental stability is the foundation on which the coaching work is built. If you overcome your depression with the help of behavioral therapy, for example, the coach will then help you to shape an optimistic future and get off to a good start.

Behavioral therapy nearby

Behavioral therapy vs. coaching: When is which useful?

Behavioural therapy is a method carried out by state-approved psychotherapists. To work as a psychotherapist, you need a license to practice and therefore a special professional license. The fields of treatment include mental disorders and psychosomatic illnesses, such as depression, eating disorders, phobias and compulsions. Referrals to psychotherapists are often made by a psychiatrist. It is therefore a medically induced measure.

A coach also offers you Support for self-help. He shows you ways to make full use of your personal strengths and lead a happier life. You don't need a degree in psychology to work as a coach. Coaching focuses on your personal potential and the opportunities to positively influence your life. It helps you in difficult life situations, but cannot replace psychotherapy due to the lack of a medical background.

Conclusion: If you have serious and pronounced psychological problems, it is better to consult a psychiatrist or a psychological psychotherapist. Coaching is a good method to consolidate the success of behavioral therapy afterwards.

Conclusion: Your path to a better you through behavioral therapy

Behavioral therapy uncovers mistakes in your actions which, in the worst case, can lead to severe psychological stress and affect your entire lifestyle. With the help of the therapist, you learn to break bad habits. A coach is on hand to provide support and will also advise you after you have successfully completed the therapy.

Do you want to get to know yourself better? Then take our Personality Test. It is the perfect introduction to personal development. Use it to recognize more and more of your strengths in order to increase your self-esteem - and get the best out of yourself!


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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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