Behavior therapy

While a few years ago mental illnesses were still a taboo subject, today reports of mental problems and psychotherapies are becoming increasingly open. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often recommended for mental illnesses. But what exactly is behavioral therapy?

Behavior therapy as part of psychotherapy

An unmanageable multitude of therapeutic offers nowadays promises help in the alleviation of psychological complaints. However, not all psychotherapeutic treatment offers that you can take advantage of are recognized as curative treatment. Behavior therapy is one of the few types of psychotherapy whose effectiveness has been scientifically proven many times. Alongside psychoanalytic psychotherapy and depth psychological psychotherapy, behavioral therapy is one of three psychotherapeutic directions whose treatment costs are covered by  health insurance companies  in Germany .

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Behavioral therapy emerged around the middle of the 20th century and was initially strongly oriented towards externally visible, “disturbed” behavior on the part of the patient. However, it quickly became clear that not only the behavior but also the thoughts and feelings of a patient had to be changed in order to treat a mental illness in the long term. Over time, the change in unfavorable thinking styles (cognitions) was integrated as a fixed part of the therapy. This is why it is also called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Cognitive behavioral therapy now combines a large number of disorder-specific and general disorders exercises, techniques and methods that are put together individually for each patient.

Behavioral therapy for mental illness

Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of behavioral therapy treatments for many mental illnesses in recent years. Mental illnesses that are primarily treated with cognitive behavioral therapy include:

At the beginning of behavioral therapy, the therapist works with the patient to develop a model of  the disorder that describes how the disorder arose and is maintained. A therapy plan is then put together in which various therapeutic elements can be used flexibly.

methods of behavioral therapy

The best-known methods of behavior therapy are probably the exposure and confrontation methods, which are often used, for example, in the case of anxiety and panic disorders and compulsions. The patient consciously seeks out the situations he fears most. For example, a patient with a fear of heights climbs a very high tower, a patient with a fear of spiders picks up a tarantula, or a patient with a washing compulsion does not wash his hands for several hours. More methods Examples of behavioral therapy include systematic desensitization, relaxation techniques, methods of cognitive restructuring, problem-solving training or social skills training. In contrast to other forms of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy is primarily problem- and goal-oriented. The patients also actively participate in the therapy. They are often asked to keep diaries and logs or to carry out some exposures and exercises independently.

Behavior therapy in children and adolescents

Very good treatment successes can also be achieved with children and adolescents with behavioral therapy. A common childhood disorder for which behavioral therapy is indicated is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). ADHD is characterized by inattention, poor  concentration , hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Behavior therapy can help children in a playful way to learn methods with which they can better control and consciously control their behavior. Other disorders in adolescence, such as bedwetting at night, aggressive and oppositional behavior disorders, depression or  anorexia  (anorexia) can also be treated with behavioral therapy.

Behavior therapy: training as a therapist

How does one become a behavioral therapist? Psychologists and physicians who have completed several years of further training as behavior therapists after studying psychology or medicine can obtain a license to practice as behavior therapists. Training in behavior therapy is offered by many private training institutes in most German cities, such as Berlin, Hamburg or Cologne.

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