What therapy will help?

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What therapy choices are there?

Behavior therapy or cognitive behavior therapy?

Let’s start by learning more about both of these types of therapy.

  • Behavior therapy is "goal-orientated, therapeutic approach that treats emotional and behavioral disorders as maladaptive learned responses that can be replaced by healthier ones with appropriate training" ("Behavior Therapy," 2001, p. 71).
  • Cognitive therapy is "action-oriented form of psychosocial therapy that assumes that maladaptive, or faulty, thinking patterns can cause maladaptive behavior and negative emotions"(Ford-Martin & Lerner, 2011, p. 1061). There is an assumption in cognitive therapy that “maladaptive behaviors and disturbed mood or emotions are a result of inappropriate or irrational thinking process that is called automatic thoughts” (Ford-Martin & Lerner, 2011, p. 1062). This means that instead of reacting to reality a person reacts to their own distorted idea of the situation (Ford-Martin & Lerner, 2011). An example of this could be when a person does not accomplish all of the tasks that they had for the day they would view themselves as useless and lazy.


What to expect with behavior Therapy

Behavior therapy could start by the client keeping a journal of their behavior. Selecting goals with the client that will aid them in chaining the behavior they desire to change ("Behavior Therapy," 2001). Therapists may often give the client homework that will encourage the changes the client is trying to reach ("Behavior Therapy," 2001). A therapist will use techniques like positive reinforcement; this is a system that the client and therapist decide on ("Behavior Therapy," 2001). They will focus on specific behaviors that they want to reinforce and use of a reward system to strengthen those behaviors ("Behavior Therapy," 2001). Extinction in behavior therapy is when the therapist try’s to eliminate the unwanted behavior by refusing reinforcement and reward ("Behavior Therapy," 2001). An example of this could be when a person that is always late for work sets the goal to be on time for a week straight, after they accomplice this goal they reward them self by buying something they have wanted. Another technique in behavior therapy is averse conditioning. This is used when the therapist is trying to reduce or eliminate a behavior that is very difficult to change because it is routine or momentarily rewarding ("Behavior Therapy," 2001). The therapist will use an unpleasant stimulus while the client is thinking about the behavior that they are trying to eliminate ("Behavior Therapy," 2001). The idea is that as the therapy continues when the client experiences the unwanted behavior it will trigger the unpleasant stimulus ("Behavior Therapy," 2001), for example if a client is trying to stop drinking soda, the therapist could use a product that will make the soda taste unpleasant. This will lead the client to not wanting the soda. The technique of counter conditioning is a maladaptive response is weakened by the strengthening of a response that is incompatible with it” ("Behavior Therapy," 2001, p. 72). This can be done by using desensitization, this is when the therapist will offset the anxiety linked with a particular behavior or situation by generating a relaxed response to it instead ("Behavior Therapy," 2001). If a client is afraid of driving a car a therapist could use desensitization to reduce the anxiety that the client feels about it. Modeling is a treatment that is based on the propensity of people to learn by what they see and by imitation ("Behavior Therapy," 2001). If a client has a fear of snakes, the therapist could have them watch someone handling one.

What to expect with Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy has many different techniques that a client will use. Behavioral homework assignments might be given a client to perform in between sessions (Ford-Martin & Lerner, 2011).This would be based on a behavior the client is trying to change, for example, if the client is having anxiety problems related to going shopping, the homework would be for the client to start engaging in this active. Cognitive rehearsal is another tool that a therapist may use, this when the client envisions a problematic situation and the therapist walks them through it step by step, teaching them how to face the situation and then successfully dealing with it (Ford-Martin & Lerner, 2011). Having a client keep a journal of their thoughts, feelings, and actions while they are facing difficult situations can help the therapist identify issues and further aid in therapy (Ford-Martin & Lerner, 2011). The use of the journal will not only help in the begging stages of therapy but can be used as a way for the client and therapist to reflect on the work they have done at any point of the therapy. Modeling is a tool that a therapist can use to mimic situations that the client is having issues with, and they can engage in role play exercises to change aid the client in changing behavior (Ford-Martin & Lerner, 2011). Another technique used in cognitive therapy is conditioning. This is when “the therapist uses reinforcement to encourage a particular behavior” (Ford-Martin & Lerner, 2011, p. 1062). Systemic desensitization is when the client is instructed to image a situation that they are afraid of the therapist use different techniques to get the client past the anxiety and relax (Ford-Martin & Lerner, 2011). Validity testing is when the “therapist will have the client defend or produce evidence that a schema is true” (Ford-Martin & Lerner, 2011, p. 1062).

The similarities between the two and the differences:

Both cognitive behavior therapy and behavior therapy use many of the same techniques like reinforcement, homework, client journals, conditioning and systemic desensitization. The differences are that behavior therapy is focused on goal setting and reaching those goals whereas cognitive behavioral therapy is action based and theorizes that the negative emotions and faulty thinking is what cause the behaviors.
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The best therapy for procrastination would be behavioral therapy because it deals with the client setting goals to change the problem. The outline for this therapy would be:

  • Having the client keep a journal so they can get a better understanding of why they procrastinate. Is it only certain things they are avoiding like homework or job related tasks. What do they do avoid the task, and what were they thinking when they put the task off till the last minute or were unable to complete it.
  • Creating a system that will reinforce the client to not procrastinate and rewarding them if they complete tasks on time.
  • Homework assignments that would include specific tasks that had to be completed at certain time, for example, a computer test that the therapist gives the client or a phone call to a specific person at a specific time.
  • Making sure that the client gets reinforcement form the therapist for completing task on time and reflecting on how they were able to do it.


Retrieved from

Behavior Therapy. (2001). In B. B. Strickland (Ed.), The Gale encyclopedia of psychology (2nd ed., pp. 71-72). Retrieved from

Ford-Martin, P. A., & Lerner, B. W. (2011). Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. In L. J. Fundukian (Ed.). In The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine (4th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 1061-1064). Detroit: Gale.

Roundy, L. (n.d.). Cognitive and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies - Video & Lesson Transcript | [Video file]. Retrieved from