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Behavior Therapy

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Sheila Holt

on 18 July 2015

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Transcript of Behavior Therapy

Behavior Therapy

Sheila Holt
Angelo State University

Major Tenets
The two basic principles that contribute to behavioral therapy include classical and operant conditioning (Cherry, 2012).
What is Behavior Therapy?
"Behavior therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on changing undesirable behaviors. It involves identifying objectionable, maladaptive behaviors and replacing them with healthier types of behavior. This type of therapy is also referred to as behavior modification therapy" (wiseGEEK, 2015).
Founders of the Behavior Therapy Theory
"Edward Thorndike was one of the first to refer to the idea of modifying behavior. Other early pioneers of behavior therapy included psychologists Joseph Wolpe and Hans Eysenck. Behaviorist B.F. Skinner's work had a major influence on the development of behavior therapy and his work introduced many of the concepts and techniques that are still in use today" (Cherry, 2012).
" Behavior therapy grew out of the academic theory of behaviorism, which began to flourish in the latter part of the nineteenth century and reached its zenith in the mid twentieth century" (New World Encyclopedia, 2013). Behavior therapy progressed during the time that Sigmeund Freud's therapeutic methods were greatly respected. In the 1950s, behavior therapists began to challenge Freud's methods and were criticized for these challenges. However, we are grateful for those challenges and the advanced forms of therapy that emerged (New World Encyclopedia, 2013).
Classical Conditioning
This principle "involves forming associations between stimuli. Previously neutral stimuli are paired with a stimulus that naturally and automatically evokes a response. After repeated pairings, an association is formed and the previously neutral stimulus will come to evoke the response on its own" (Cherry 2012).
Operant Conditioning
This principle "focuses on how reinforcement and punishment can be utilized to either increase or decrease the frequency of a behavior. Behaviors followed by desirable consequences are more likely to occur again in the future, while those followed by negative consequences become less likely to occur" (Cherry, 2012).
(exposure to fear-invoking situations intensely)
Systematic Desensitization
(teach individuals to relax while concentrating on a list of fears)
Aversion Therapy
(reducing unwanted behavior by pairing an undesirable behavior with an aversive stimulus)
Token Economies
(clients earn tokens for desired behaviors and exchange them for privileges or desired items)
Contingency Management
(formal written contracts that outline goals, rewards, and penalties)
(individuals learn new skills by watching those desired skills be performed by others)
(removing individuals from a situation that provides reinforcement, for example, time-out)
(Cherry, 2012)
Behavior therapy may be used to:
modify bad habits
help with undesirable school behaviors
treat insomnia
help children who are overly aggressive
treat ADD, ADHD, and OCD
analyze eating patterns
treat phobias
treat chronic fatigue
treat certain addictions
(wiseGEEK, 2015)

Behavior Therapy. (n.d.)
In New World Encyclopedia online.
Retrieved from


Cherry, K.A. (2012). What is Behavioral Therapy?
Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/

wiseGEEK. (2015). What is Behavior Therapy?
Clear Answers for
Common Questions.
Retrieved from http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-behavior-therapy.htm

"In the first decade of the twenty-first century, behavioral therapy and its philosophical parent, behaviorism, have not become the definitive and final answer to the questions of human motivations, nor the only approach to alleviating problems and suffering, but they are a vital and effective part of the search for meaning and understanding of human behavior that constitutes the core of psychology" (New World Encyclopedia, 2013).
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