What Are Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapy techniques can help people change maladaptive behaviors that are creating problems in their lives, especially if they are caused by mental health conditions, like depression, anxiety disorders, and OCD. This article will cover some examples of behavioral therapies and what they entail so you can develop a better understanding of what they are and possibly use them to your own benefit.

An Overview of Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is a larger umbrella term for a handful of specific therapy techniques, and they all have their roots in behaviorism, a concept that was originally in opposition to psychoanalysis.

Behaviorism is based on the notion that all behaviors can be explained through both classical and operant conditioning, which is the process of behaviors being learned in response to certain stimuli.

Behaviors can also be developed through punishment and reinforcement – if there are consequences to their behaviors, it will be less likely to be repeated, and conversely, if they are rewarded, this can encourage the actions to be repeated, respectively. They can also fade away with time through extinction.

Using this type of information that was proposed by psychologists such as Ivan Pavlov, John B. Watson, and B.F. Skinner, different strategies can be used to address maladaptive behaviors, especially when combined with cognitive therapies, and one of the most popular types of therapies is cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT).

Nonetheless, there are many other types of methods that are based on conditioning that you should be aware of and the next section will share some of the most successful ones.

What Kinds of Behavioral Therapies Are There?

There are different forms of behavioral therapies that can be more practical for certain applications or different mental health conditions, and many of them can be provided by licensed professionals such as the ones found at BetterHelp.

Here are some examples that are commonly used by professionals to help others make positive changes:

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy or exposure and response prevention (ERP) is an excellent tool for helping people overcome fear-based behaviors, such as the ones seen in phobias and other anxiety disorders, OCD, and PTSD.

Through gradual exposure to the fear-inducing stimuli and not responding to them, individuals can be conditioned to no longer be afraid of the source of distress, whether they are certain situations, objects, or living entities.

Through desensitization and learning relaxation techniques, people can overcome their fears or at least feel that their distress is more manageable.

Applied Behavioral Analysis

Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) is a technique that has been most frequently used to help people, especially kids, with development disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

It can help develop communication and learning skills and reduce problematic ones like harmful stimming, aggression, disruptive, and destructive behaviors.

This can help them improve their social interactions with others as well as their academic performance by learning how to behave more appropriately.

Aversion Therapy

Aversion therapy incorporates exposure techniques, but not in the same way as exposure therapy does.

In this type of behavior therapy, people are exposed to a stimuli that makes them want to avoid performing unwanted behaviors. For example, someone may take a medication that produces side effects or reactions that discourages the use of specific substances.

Aversion therapy is known to be useful for people who have a dependency on alcohol, but there is some evidence that supports it could be helpful for people who have compulsive behaviors, like repetitive nail-biting or hair-pulling.


By utilizing the techniques found in behavioral therapies, you or a loved one can make a positive change in their life. If certain behaviors have been problematic, they can be addressed, eliminated, and even replaced with ones that are beneficial to you so that you can live happier and healthier.