Similarities & Differences

Behavioral Therapy -vs- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral Therapy

Helps clients to change negative behavior into positive ones with different conditioning techniques.

Changing behavior by using positive rewards and no rewards for negative behavior.

Assists in helping people to change their behaviors to things they fear by using the item they fear itself and conditioning practices.


Relies on behavioral techniques but adds a cognitive element, focusing on the problematic thoughts that underlie behaviors.

Operates on the assumption that our beliefs are what make us feel and act certain ways.


The main similarity is they both are used to explain what makes an individual behave the way they do.

Both have been proven successful.


The main difference between these two theories is that behaviors are reactions to actions and cognitive behaviors are from our feelings and our thought patterns which create our beliefs.

Traditional behavioral theory is based on the concepts of classical and operant conditioning and that learning produces behavior. They are active reactions to an action.

Cognitive theory believes behaviors are influenced based on our thought processes and emotions.


Corey, G. (2013). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy (Ninth Edition).

Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.

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