Therapy and Counseling

The Essential Guide to Understanding Therapy

The Therapeutic Process

Throughout the lifespan, individuals may encounter life altering challenges that make it extremely difficult to carry out normal functioning throughout their daily lives. While difficulties may always present themselves amongst each individuals lives, there are cases where conditions such as anxiety, depression, fear, and other expressions are to difficult to overcome alone. Ultimately, an individual will reach out to their loved ones or close friends to hopefully receive support or advice on how to handle these presenting problems. However, sometimes an individual may benefit from seeking professional help from a therapist. According to Asnaani (2012), studies of brain imaging within research has been able to present that by verbalizing and expressing ones feelings, an individuals level of sadness, anger, and pain will generally decrease.

Therapy Options

While treatment may consist of many months at a time, it will be important to focus on the most important needs pertaining to the patient. In the process of working toward treatment and therapeutic facilitation, the road to a successful treatment will be planned effectively through the combination of family considerations and professionals working to maintain the direct needs to the patient. Moreover, as one may observe, there are a wide array of approaches that assist in helping children, adolescents, adults, families, and couples. Some forms of therapy may include, but are not limited to:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
  • Exposure Therapy
  • Interpersonal Therapy
  • Mentalization-Based Therapy
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

What is Behavior Therapy?

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In exploration of a common approach utilized to treat patients, one can uncover the relative defining mechanisms related to behavior therapy. Behavior therapy is most generally considered as an assessment and evaluation of specific behaviors that may be occurring within the individual's life. Often, the most common disorders or conditions treated with behavior therapy consist of substance abuse, eating disorders, obesity, sexual challenges, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, and anxiety (Corey, 2017). Corey (2017) also explains that therapists whom utilize behavior therapy will treat patients by focusing on determinants of behavior, identifying specific ways learning experiences can stimulate change, and lastly ensure that the chosen treatment plan is tailored directly to each individual patient. Additionally, with the assistance of a professional therapist, patients are able to set their own goals to hopefully replace unwanted or maladaptive behaviors with desired behaviors (Corey, 2017). A behavior therapist will generally focus on specific ways that an individuals thoughts or behaviors may be accidentally rewarded, thus leading to an increase in these behaviors. The ones that an individual may seek assistance for include the maladaptive thoughts or behaviors. The main goal will to essentially encourage clients to try gaining new behaviors and stray away from allowing the negative rewards to dictate their behaviors (Asnaani, 2012).

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

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An additional approach to the treatment of potential patients includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be provided to individuals suffering from disorders or conditions related to anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or eating disorders (Otte, 2011). CBT is recognized as a short-term form of psychotherapy treatment that relies heavily on the goal of changing thought patterns or behaviors to change or improve an individual's mood and functioning. To ensure that these goals can adequately be reached, a therapist will work with a patient to uncover unhealthy thought patterns and focus on ways that these thoughts can be causing the behaviors and beliefs that may be presenting problems for the patient (Hays, 2008). Hays (2008) provides a beneficial example of a real life application of the potential assistance that a therapist may provide for a patient. For instance, if an individual suffers from low self-esteem and has persistent thoughts related to "I cannot do anything right" or "I am not good at anything", the therapist will work to replace these negative thoughts with positive ones similar to "I can do this most of the time" or "I am just not good at this one thing, but I am better at others" (Hays, 2008).

Aspects of Similarity and Differentiation Between Therapeutic Facilitation

With recognition of the defining mechanisms presented by both behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, it may also be beneficial to discuss relative similarities and differences between the two approaches as well. With consideration of similar aspects associated with each treatment, one may recognize that each treatment is associated with providing guidance and alteration of specific thoughts and behaviors present. In each treatment, the therapist is ultimately working to assist the client discover potential positive thoughts and behaviors to replace undesired ones (Otte, 2011). Moreover, an additional similar aspect associated with the treatments is that they are both generally short-term and include homework assignments to ensure that new skills can be managed outside of the sessions as well. There will often be anywhere between 6-20 sessions that will be directly focused on working to successfully treating each patient (Otte, 2011). Lastly, each treatment is goal oriented as the therapist and client will develop goals and track progress of each goal throughout the therapeutic process. In opposition, recognizable differences that may exist may be viewed in the potential process itself. According to Otte (2011), cognitive behavioral therapy is different from behavior therapy due to the relevant fact that CBT focuses on ways an individuals cognitions, emotions, and behaviors are connected and the way they can each affect one another. While behavior therapy focuses on the manipulation of the external environment and internal environment on specific behaviors, cognitive therapy actually focuses on the way thoughts had influenced specific behaviors.

Therapeutic Application

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With consideration of an individual whom seems to find difficult in avoiding procrastination, the therapeutic process that may benefit an individual most would be behavior therapy. Behavior therapy may work to bring focus to potential negative rewards that may allow for procrastination to continue occurring. For instance, if an individual has to study or do homework for a class while their favorite television show is on, they may choose to watch the television show as opposed to doing what needs to be done. Ultimately, the individual will feel reward when he or she gets to finish their television show; however, the procrastination may have hurt them in the ending result. Behavior therapy will issue the goal to encourage clients to try to remove procrastination from within their lives and choose a different from of behavior by potentially realizing how much they actually can achieve if they do not procrastinate.


Asnaani, A., Fang, A., Hofmann, S.G., Sawyer, A.T., & Vonk, I. (2012 October). The efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy: A review of meta-analyses. Cognitive Therapy and Research 36(5), 427-440. doi: 10.1007/s10608-012-9476-1

Corey, G. (2017). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (10th ed). Cengage Learning: Boston, MA.

Hays, P.A. (2008 June). Multicultural applications of cognitive behavior therapy. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 26(3), 309-315. doi: 10.1037/0735-7028.26.3.309

Otte, C. (2011 December). Cognitive behavioral therapy in anxiety disorders: Current state of the evidence. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience 13(4), 413-421.