A Look at Cognitive vs. Behavior Therapy

A Look at Cognitive vs. Behavior Therapy from Springs Health LLC in Columbia, MDBehavior therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy have similarities, but they should not be confused with each other. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a branch of psychotherapy that focuses on identifying negative behavioral and thought patterns and replacing them with more positive ones. It helps patients understand how their thoughts and emotions impact their actions. Conversely, behavior therapy aims to address problematic behaviors. It focuses more on harmful behaviors than the thoughts behind them.

A closer look at behavior therapy and CBT

Let us take a closer look at cognitive behavioral therapy and behavior therapy to better understand their similarities and differences.

1. Cognitive behavioral therapy

Unlike some other types of talk therapy that focus on exploring a patient’s past and past trauma, cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on exploring the connections between a patient’s emotions, thoughts, and actions. For example, if a person is under excessive stress, they might make decisions that they would not make if things were calmer around them.

CBT works off the assumption that harmful thought processes partially cause psychological problems. These harmful ways of thinking can come from learned patterns of behavior. Fortunately, people can improve their symptoms by learning effective coping mechanisms and ways to manage their thoughts. Examples of how a person’s emotions and thoughts can influence their behavior include:

  • Negative or inaccurate thoughts and perceptions can lead to poor mental health and emotional distress.
  • Such thoughts can also lead to unhelpful behaviors.
  • Learning how to identify such thoughts and behaviors and correct them improves a person’s mental health.

2. Behavior therapy

Behavior therapy is a broader term for different types of therapy used to address mental health disorders. This type of therapy is used to identify and change unhealthy and destructive behaviors. It works off the idea that all behaviors are learned and can be changed. The treatment focuses on pinpointing the patient’s destructive or self-sabotaging behaviors and replacing them with more positive habits. Issues that can be treated with behavioral therapy include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Phobias
  • Substance abuse
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Popular branches of behavioral therapy include the following:

Cognitive-behavioral play therapy

This form of therapy is often used with children. Therapists can gain valuable insights about things that a child is unable or unwilling to express by watching them play with toys. The child might be asked to create a sandbox scenario or draw something. This type of therapy can also help improve communication between parents and children.

System desensitization

This form of therapy works off classical conditioning. It is typically used to address phobias, the irrational fears about specific things. It often starts with the patient being taught breathing techniques before being gradually exposed to things that trigger their phobias.

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Take control of your mental health

Cognitive-behavioral and behavior therapy can help you put your mental health issues behind you. Give us a call or stop by our Columbia clinic to set up a consultation with our therapist.

Request an appointment or call Springs Health LLC at 410-772-0774 for an appointment in our Columbia office.