Many of us have gone through some type of psychotherapy when we have an emotional problem. It may have been through a psychiatrist, a psychologist or a counselor. Behavior therapy is another type of therapy that can be used if we are under some type of stress.
Behavior therapy is a type of therapy that is used on people who are trying to change their abnormal behavior. These patients go to a behavior therapist in the hopes of trying to change their behavior rather than trying to understand the reason for the way they act.
Some people are obsessed with certain phobias or have marital problems. Behavior therapy deals with eliminating the symptom without trying to find out the cause.
Behavior modification, as this type of therapy is often referred to, originated with animal psychologists, but the techniques have been changed by psychiatrists.
The basic principle of this type of therapy is to repeat a feared situation under safe conditions. Repetition of a feared experience under safe conditions will make it less threatening. For example, if a person is afraid to go in an elevator of a high building, this person should gradually go one floor at a time until he/she feels comfortable reaching the top floor. Depending on the person, it can take a short time or it can take a long time until the fear of high places goes away.
Another technique to help get rid of a fear can be successful with children by using the rewards system.
At one time the treatment known as aversion therapy was used. Punishment was used to discourage undesirable behavior. This was used in treating alcoholics and drug addicts.
Another technique used in behavior therapy is known as flooding. Instead of losing fear in stages, the patient is confronted with the anxiety provoking stimuli at once, but with the support of the therapist. The patient remains in this situation until the feelings of anxiety eventually disappear.
Response prevention is another technique used. The patient is prevented from carrying out an obsessive task. For example, lets say a person will not leave the house until this person goes back and forth several times to see if the gas is turned off on the stove. In this case, someone will stop this person immediately from this repeated action. This type of person can be late for work because of the repeated action. In response prevention therapy, other methods are used along with it.
In agoraphobia, which is the fear of open spaces, the patient is reassured that he or she can cope being outside the house in a wide open space. The therapist accompanies this patient on a short journey, giving this person emotional support. The patient uses relaxation techniques to help cope with anxiety. Gradually, the distance traveled from home is increased. This continues until the patient feels confident to do it alone.
Source; The American Medical Association, Encyclopedia of Medicine