Behavior Therapy (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
A goal-oriented, therapeutic approach that treats emotional and behavioral disorders as maladaptive learned responses that can be replaced by healthier ones with appropriate training.
In contrast to the psychoanalytic method of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), which focuses on unconscious mental processes and their roots in the past, behavior therapy focuses on observable behavior and its modification in the present. Behavior therapy was developed during the 1950s by researchers and therapists critical of the psychodynamic treatment methods that prevailed at the time. It drew on a variety of theoretical work, including the classical conditioning principles of the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), who became famous for experiments in which dogs were trained to salivate at the sound of a bell, and the work of American B.F. Skinner (1904-1990), who pioneered the concept of operant conditioning, in which behavior is modified by changing the response it elicits. By the 1970s, behavior therapy enjoyed widespread popularity as a treatment approach. Over the past two decades, the attention of behavior therapists has focused increasingly on their clients' cognitive processes, and many therapists have begun to use cognitive behavior therapy to change clients' unhealthy behavior by replacing negative or...
(The entire section is 695 words.)
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Behavioral Therapy (Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine)
Behavioral therapy, or behavioral modification, is a psychological technique based on the premise that specific, observable, maladaptive, badly adjusted, or self-destructing behaviors can be modified by learning new, more appropriate behaviors to replace them.
Reward and punishment systems have been used throughout recorded history in an attempt to influence behavior, from child rearing to the criminal justice system. Modern behavioral therapy began in the 1950s with the work of B.F. Skinner and Joseph Wolpe. Wolpe treated his patients who suffered from phobias with a technique he developed called systematic desensitization. Systematic desensitization involved gradually exposing a patient to an anxiety-provoking stimuli until the anxiety response was extinguished, or eliminated.
Skinner introduced a behavioral technique he called operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is based on the idea that an individual will choose his behavior based on past experiences of consequences of that behavior. If a behavior was associated with positive reinforcements or rewards in the past, the individual will choose it over behavior associated with punishments.
By the 1970s, behavior therapy enjoyed widespread popularity as a treatment approach. Over the past two decades,...
(The entire section is 2031 words.)