6 Types of Behavior Therapy Used by Counselors Today

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The exchange between counselor and client is guided by principles and techniques developed over years of research and practice. Counselors today use a host of therapy approaches and strategies to help their clients change and improve their behavior and live happier, more fulfilling lives.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by Wake Forest University’s Online Master’s in Counseling and Human Services.

How counselors deploy different therapeutic techniques to help their clients work through various issues.

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Psychotherapy Treatment

Psychotherapy treatment aims to provide a collaborative, non-judgmental, and supportive environment for clients to talk openly.

There are several approaches to psychotherapy. For instance, psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapies focus on unconscious motivations and mental processes to change problematic feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. The most well-known proponent of this approach is Sigmund Freud.

Behavioral therapy, on the other hand, explores learning’s role in behavioral development. CBT is a variation of this type of therapy. A famous champion of this therapy is Ivan Pavlov (and his dogs).

Cognitive therapy is a newer therapy – it was developed by Dr. Aaron Beck in the 1960s. This approach examines clients’ perceptions of themselves and their worldview, and how those perceptions manifest in their behavior.

Psychotherapy has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of issues, from addictions and anxiety disorders to schizophrenia and trauma recovery. A 2017 study revealed that PTSD can be treated effectively in as few as five psychotherapy sessions.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT treatment focuses on shifting thought and behavior patterns from dysfunctional to functional. Select strategies include strengthening self-awareness, stress relief techniques, and the development of coping skills for challenging situations.

CBT has been shown to effectively treat several issues including anxiety disorders, depressing, phobias, and panic disorder. A 2018 study showed substantial improvement with emotion regulation in children with autism spectrum disorder. Furthermore, a 2017 study showed for the first time that CBT increases connectivity between several brain regions, including the amygdala and the frontal lobes. These boosts are associated with long-term recovery from psychosis.

Computerized CBT

Computerized CBT, also known as ICBT, consists of the same tactics as in-person CBT, but it’s delivered via apps or computers. Some of the more popular ICBT apps include Anxiety Coach, Smiling Mind, MoodKit, and SuperBetter.

So far, ICBT has been shown to be equally as effective as traditional CBT. This has been verified via survey: A 2018 literature review of 64 trials showed ICBT was as effective as face-to-face CBT and had high rates of satisfaction and acceptability.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a comprehensive, evidence-based treatment program. A typical program consists of weekly individual therapy sessions, weekly group skills training sessions, therapist consultation team meetings, and phone support between sessions. Patients learn to cope with stress through improving distress tolerance, emotional regulation, mindfulness ability, and interpersonal skills.

DBT has been shown to be effective in treating serious issues such as borderline personality disorder (BPD), depression, eating disorders, and suicidal and self-harming thoughts. A 2017 study on clients with BPD showed substantial reductions in borderline symptoms, anxiety, hopelessness, suicidal ideation, and depression. The study also demonstrated increases in overall quality of life after patients engaged in a year-long DBT program.

Another form of DBT is humanistic therapy, which emphasizes clients’ positive traits and behaviors as motivators to help them reach their maximum potential. This theory evolved from Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Carl Roger’s self-centered approach.

Integrative, or holistic, therapy is another DBT form. This therapy is a blend of many theories and approaches, customized to client’s needs.

Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is guided hypnosis performed by a clinical hypnotherapist. Therapists use mental imagery and suggestion to aid clients in resolving issues and changing negative habits. It can also help clients explore their unconscious in a safe environment. Hypnotherapy is used as an adjunct therapy, along with other forms of therapy or medical treatment.

This form of therapy has been shown to be effective in treating several issues, including dementia, learning disorders, interpersonal problems, and sexual dysfunction. A 2017 study also indicated that hypnosis had an immediate, significant, and sustained positive effect on anxiety in cancer patients.

Art Therapy

Art therapy requires counseling skills in facilitating creative processes as well as psychology. Therapists can use visual art, dance, music, poetry, and other creative means to conduct this approach, which can be applied with individuals, couples, families, and groups.

Art therapists use the creative process to help clients decrease anxiety, improve social skills, regulate behavior, foster self-esteem, and more. The therapy has been showed to be effective in treating adverse physical conditions like cancer and traumatic brain injuries. It’s also been demonstrated to have a positive effect in treating trauma recovery, PTSD, dementia, and autism. It also had a significant impact in treating depression: A 2017 study showed that after 10 hour-long treatment sessions, patients improved an average of almost five steps on the rating scale used for depression.

Conclusion

Therapy strategies of all types can complement each other and alleviate a variety of both mental and physical conditions.