Behavior therapy

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Behaviour therapy is a broad term referring to clinical psychotherapy that uses techniques derived from behaviourism and are often used in conjunction with cognitive psychology. While behaviour analysis views everything an organism does as behaviour—including overt and covert, the cognitive psychology viewpoint is that cognition and emotions are the causes of overt behavior. Those who practice behaviour therapy tend to look more at specific, learned behaviours and how the environment influences those behaviours. Those who practice behaviour therapy are called behaviourists, or behaviour analysts.[1] They tend to look for treatment outcomes that are objectively measurable.[2] Behaviour therapy does not involve one specific method but it has a wide range of techniques that can be used to treat a person’s psychological problems.[3]

Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) is the application of behaviour analysis that focuses on assessing influencing environmental variables and the use of learning principles, particularly respondent and operant conditioning, to identify potential behaviour-change procedures, which are frequently used throughout clinical therapyCognitive behavioural therapy views cognition and emotions as preceding overt behavior with treatment plans in psychotherapy to lessen the issue. Hallmark techniques of behaviour therapies are overlapping components of cognitive psychology, in addition to behaviour analytic principles of counterconditioningpunishmenthabituation, and functional analysis (FA).

Methodological behaviourism, which does not acknowledge the presence of covert behaviour, is not entirely outdated in clinical practice. Exposure and response prevention (ERP), a subcategory of “Flooding” desensitization and derived from methodological behaviourism, for example, is typically used for clients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Although not entirely behaviour analytic, the behaviour therapist will first use functional behaviour assessments (FBAs) and behaviour intervention plans (BIPs) before implementing the intervention, and does rely on functional analysis in that respect.


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