Behavioral Counseling Explained
In behavioral counseling, the goal is to reinforce desirable behaviors and eliminate detrimental actions. Behavioral therapy is rooted in the principles of behaviorism, a school of thought focused on the idea that we learn from our environment.
Behavioral therapies are unlike some other types of counseling that are rooted in insight (such as psychoanalytic and humanistic therapies), instead behavioral counseling is action-based. Behavioral therapists focus on using the same learning approach that led to the creation of unwanted behaviors.
The behavior itself is the problem and the goal is to teach clients new behaviors to minimize or eliminate the problem issues. Old ways led to the development of a problem and so the idea is that new ways can fix it.
There are also three major areas that also draw on the strategies of behavioral therapy:
- Cognitive-behavioral counseling relies on behavioral counseling techniques but adds a cognitive factor, focusing on the problematic thoughts that lie behind certain behaviors.
- Applied behavior analysis uses operant/rewarding conditioning to correct and modulate problematic behaviors.
- Social learning theory, focuses on how people learn through observing. Watching others being rewarded or punished for their decisions can lead to learning and behavior change.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT looks at the connection between thoughts and behaviors and acts on the assumption that our thoughts form the way we react to the world, if we can change our way of thinking, then it will change our perceptions. In cognitive behavioral therapy the client is asked to explain their negative thoughts, then the therapist will question them in a number of ways to see if they are useful. Finally these thoughts are replaced with honest and constructive ways of thinking.