Behavior Therapy Versus Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Behavior Therapy

Behavior therapy is used to modify treatment of observable behaviors for each individual client. "Behavioral procedures are used in the fields of developmental disabilities, mental illness, education and special education, community psychology, clinical psychology, rehabilitation, business, self-management, sports psychology, heal-related behaviors, medicine, and gerontology" (Corey, 2013, p. 247). The four areas of development for behavior therapy include classical conditioning, operant conditioning, social learning approach, as well as cognitive behavior therapy. Classical conditioning "refers to what happens prior to learning that creates a response through pairing" (Corey, 2013, p. 248). The best example of this is the study done by Ivan Pavlov when he studied the salivation response of dogs when food was paired with a dinner bell. Operant conditioning is a form of learning that occurs based on the outcome that results from a behavior. Social learning approach "involves a triadic reciprocal interaction among environment, personal factors (beliefs, preferences, expectations, self-perceptions, and interpretations), and individual behavior" (Corey, 2013, p. 249). Cognitive behavioral therapy's theory is that :"what people believe influences how they act and feel" (Corey, 2013, p. 249). The main emphasis of behavior therapy is to have clients take an active responsibility in their treatment. The goals of behavior therapy are to encourage personal choice and produce new circumstances for growth.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a short -term treatment method meant to combined cognitive and behavioral theories. "All of the cognitive behavioral approaches share the same basic characteristics and assumptions as traditional behavior therapy" (Corey, 2013, p. 290). The team effort of client and therapist for treatment, cognitive processes being affected by mental disruptions, changing behavior can happen through changing cognition, putting emphasis on the here and now with a time limit, the therapist playing an active role and giving directive support to the client, and treatment containing educational experiences about what the objective concerns are. The main goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is "teaching clients how to separate the evaluation of their behaviors from the evaluations of themselves- their essence and their totality- and how to accept themselves in spite of their imperfections" (Corey, 2013, p. 295).

Using both Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Both therapies can be used for treatment with a client by focusing on the observable behaviors of the client and then assisting them in reconditioning their thinking in order to change those behaviors. In order to change procrastination behavioral therapy would be the best option. Asking questions like what would you like to change, how active are you, what specific behaviors keep you from getting what you want, will allow the therapist to help the client focus on the main behavior that is a concern. This also allows the client to be active in creating their treatment plan. This is part of Arnold Lazarus' multimodal approach; also known as BASIC I.D.


Corey, G. (2013) Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. Brooks/Cole Cengage Publishing. Belmont, CA.