define behavioral therapy

Behavioral therapy may be a familiar term if you’ve sought treatment for a substance use disorder. Most noteworthy, behavioral therapy is one modality that focuses on altering your actions to change your feelings. We can define behavioral therapy as a method of breaking associations between actions and their consequences.

How To Define Behavioral Therapy

Ways to Define Behavioral Therapy Behavioral therapy is an umbrella term that includes several mental health treatments. Furthermore, counselors use it to treat a variety of conditions, including depression, eating disorders, and addiction.

The premise of this form of therapy is classical conditioning. If you’ve ever heard of Pavlov’s dog experiments, classical conditioning involves associating specific stimuli with a learned response. For example, if you have fun with your friends whenever you drink, you will begin to associate alcohol with a good time.

To define behavioral therapy, you need to understand that your associations with substance use are learned behaviors. Therefore, behavioral therapy seeks to disconnect the reward stimuli with using drugs or alcohol.

Most people define behavioral therapy as an approach that:

  • Encourages you to be aware of your behavioral patterns
  • Allows you to reward yourself for positive behaviors
  • May use counter conditioning
  • Encourages role playing
  • Holds you accountable for your actions

Types of Behavioral Therapy

There are different variations within the behavioral therapy field. Two of the most common is Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT.

One of the variations is DBT, which aims to help patients live a more fulfilling life by exchanging negative behaviors for positive ones. Thus, individuals learn mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal skills, and emotional regulation. The therapist will provide support and help the patient integrate these new skills into their lives.

First of all, CBT is a short-term approach that works to develop new coping strategies. It combines psychotherapy and behavioral therapy to address each patient’s needs.

Also, during this form of therapy, individuals practice being aware of the automatic, emotion-heavy thoughts that drive much of their behavior. Likewise, these feelings may block people from making positive decisions or changing consequential behaviors.

Lastly, individuals who have alcohol addictions may think, “I need a drink to get through the day.” Therefore, they may feel guilty after having several drinks. Through CBT, they recognize this thought pattern and learn behavioral strategies for managing their day. As a result, this makes it far easier to avoid alcohol.

Do CBT and DBT Work?

Most noteworthy, research shows that behavioral therapy is effective, especially when in combination with other therapeutic methods. Certainly, at Pinnacle Peak Recovery, we define behavioral therapy as an individual approach to achieving long-term sobriety.

Also, we offer education through our rehab blog and a variety of addiction treatment programs at our Arizona treatment facility, including:

Even more, we can help you live the enriching life you want. Above all, if you’re ready to change your mindset and establish new habits, call us at 866-377-4761.


Pinnacle Peak Recovery