Behavior Therapy VS. CBT

Similarities and differences of behavior therapy & CBT

Behavior Therapy

Behavior therapy focuses on the observable behavior determined by environmental factors. The goals of behavior therapy are to increase personal choice and to create new conditions for learning (Corey, 2013). This can be done in many different ways. According to Corey (2013) some techniques that patients can benefit from are listed below:

  • Operant conditioning (positive/negative reinforcement)
  • Progressive muscle relaxation (meditation, deep breathing, etc.)
  • Systematic desensitization
  • In vivo exposure (live exposure to anxiety-evoking event)
  • In vivo flooding (intense and prolonged exposure to anxiety-producing stimuli)
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (assessment and preparation, imaginal flooding, and cognitive restructuring)
  • Social skills training (develop and achieve skills in interpersonal competence)

According to Corey (2013) some of the functions behavioral clinicians preform are as follows:

  • The therapist works to understand why and how behaviors occur in the client
  • Clinicians use evidence based strategies
  • Clinicians evaluate the progress towards the goals throughout treatment
  • The clinician conducts follow-up assessments to determine the durability of changes over time

Big image

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) focuses on how a person's thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are connected and affect each other. In addition CBT runs on the basis that what people believe influence how they act and feel (Corey. 2013). Because CBT focuses on a wide array of issues the goals are fluid and therapists are able to intervene at different points during the treatment (About Psychological Treatment, 2016). The main goal for CBT is to teach clients how to separate their self-evaluations from their behavior evaluations as well as how to accept all of their imperfections (Corey, 2013).

According to Corey (2013) the function of the therapist is the following:

  • To show clients how they have incorporated irrational absolute "shoulds", "oughts", and "musts"
  • demonstrate how clients are keeping their emotional disturbances active by continuing to think illogical and unrealistic
  • Help the client modify their thinking and minimize their irrational ideas
  • Challenge the clients to develop a rational philosophy of life

These are important to make sure the client is able to accept themselves and bring attention to how their thinking may be sabotaging them. This awareness allows the individual to begin and work towards positive change.

Big image

Similarities and Differences of Behavior Therapy and CBT

There are many similarities between behavior therapy and CBT, but one of the biggest differences would be that CBT focuses on multiple aspects of the individual including thoughts, emotions, and behavior whereas behavior therapy is only concerned with the behavior. This is quite a significant difference. It should also be noted that CBT uses many different forms of treatment and sometimes even a combination of therapies depending on what would best suit the client.

As far as similarities both therapies support a goal-orientated treatment, the therapist seeks to empower the client, work step-by-step to achieve goals, client and therapist work together, and the client and therapist develop goals together (About Psychological Treatment, 2016). These are all important to both forms of therapy. The focus is on the patient and allowing them to work towards reaching the goals which are important to their treatment.

Using Together and Separately for Treatment

CBT uses behavior therapy practices along with cognitive therapy depending what would best benefit the client. Behavior therapy could benefit from using CBT techniques as well. Behavior therapy is solely focused on the behaviors of the individual with none if any of the internal processes which may be involved. Some clients may benefit from only the behavior therapy techniques, but some situations may require addressing emotions or thought processes. Addiction is something that may be helpful to understand thoughts and emotions because many times it is a result of other issues outside of the actual addiction.

Best Approach for Procrastination

The best approach to address procrastination would be CBT. CBT would help a person understand their thought process and emotions involved in the act of procrastinating. While behavior therapy approaches would help a person to address the behaviors which cause the procrastination. This would allow for the best opportunity for actual change by focusing on the underlying thought processes and emotions in conjunction with the actual behavior of procrastinating.


Corey, G. (2013). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.

About psychological treatment. (2016). Association for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies. Retrieved from