Behavioral and CBT Therapy

During substance abuse treatment and therapy for mental health disorders, several options exist for specific treatment types. Depending on the client that’s being treated, one particular form of therapy or various methods may be employed to help promote recovery.

Mental health and substance abuse disorders result in what’s known as challenging behaviors. These behaviors are what help professionals decide the form of therapy that could be most effective during the period when the personalized treatment plan is put together.

Behavioral therapy is one of the most common forms of therapy administered during mental health and substance abuse treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy seems to be a favorite among many professional circles.

What does behavioral therapy consist of, and what makes the offshoot cognitive behavioral therapy such an effective treatment? How does this form differ from other forms of behavioral therapies? We’ll answer these questions and more in the following sections.

What Is Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy describes a wide variety of various methods utilized to transform challenging behaviors. The ultimate goal is to promote positive behavior and reduce or eliminate the negative ones.

This form of therapy stems from the building blocks of behaviorism, which is a thought school that claims we learn from our environment. The early 1900s was when this approach first received wide use and would remain a force in the mental health world for decades.

During the earlier days of this therapy, the common term used for any similar treatment was known as behavior modification. Alternative treatment forms focus on insight, while behavior therapy zeroes in on actions.

This is primarily what makes it so effective – focusing on specific actions makes it a laser-targeted form of treatment. The action is the issue, and the primary goal is to educate the client on new behaviors and actions to mitigate the issue.

Behavioral therapy, stated in the simplest form, claims that because old learning led to the onset of the problem, then new understanding can erase it. In later years, focused methods would be employed, breaking behavioral therapy down into subcategories.

What Are the Types of Behavioral Therapy?

What Are the Types of Behavioral Therapy


Seven specific forms of behavioral therapy exist as offshoots to the parent category. The following section highlights each different type of therapy and the pertinent information regarding each.

Applied Behavior Analysis

This behavioral therapy uses a reward and punishment system to form and change challenging behaviors.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT depends on behavioral therapy methods but adds components of cognitive therapy. This type of treatment places emphasis on the negative thoughts behind challenging behaviors.

Cognitive-Behavioral Play Therapy

This uses playtime to analyze, avoid, and remedy social challenges in children. Therapists use dolls and other items to help children learn how to think and act differently.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

This specific type of CBT uses behavioral and cognitive efforts to help clients learn to deal with their feelings, handle emotions and stress, and mend personal relationships.

Exposure Therapy

This uses behavioral methods to help clients overcome their fears of people, places, and things. The exposure approach puts people in direct contact with the origin of their phobias while teaching relaxation techniques.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

This form of therapy deals with identifying challenging or harmful ideas and feelings. Clients challenge these ideas and exchange them with more rational, natural ones.

Social Learning Theory

This treatment emphasizes the way people learn through observing. Observing other people being rewarded or punished through their actions will make them want to transform their behavior as well.

With such a large number of different behavioral therapies readily available, many uses exist for these types of treatments.

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Common Uses for Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies are effective for several different types of issues. When determining whether a client might benefit from a specific form of behavioral therapy, applied behavioral analysis (ABA) assesses several areas of concern.

Some of the most common uses of behavioral therapy include the following:

  • Substance abuse
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Antisocial and borderline personality disorder
  • Chronic pain
  • Fatigue and stress disorder
  • Criminal behavior

Behavioral therapy has been particularly effective at uncovering substance abuse and conditioning connection information.

The Substance Abuse and Conditioning Connection

Substance Abuse and Conditioning Connection

Conditioning refers to the relationship between a stimulus and the response triggered by the said stimulus. For example, if you see your favorite beverage, you may become thirsty.

This is an unconditioned stimulus, an automatic reflex, or a response that isn’t learned. A conditioned stimulus, or classical conditioning, are learned response to a specific stimulus. Substance abuse, triggers, and relapse work in the same fashion.

Ivan Pavlov started this theory by using a group of dogs. He initially introduced the dogs to food and noted that salivation was an automatic response that wasn’t taught or learned.

He began ringing a bell each time he fed the dogs during his experiments. Eventually, the dogs began salivating when he rang the bell even without Pavlov bringing them food.

This proves the conditioning connection between a reaction and a learned stimulus. The following example demonstrates that triggers for substance abuse and relapse operate similarly.

Someone may be used to abusing their drug of choice in a red car. Whenever they see a red car, they are triggered to use drugs. Behavioral therapy works to break these relationships and help clients avoid the revolving door of recovery and relapse.

Breaking these relationships is one of the most significant benefits of a behavioral therapy approach to substance abuse. However, additional benefits also exist to using this form of treatment.

Benefits of Behavioral Therapy Approaches

Additional benefits of behavioral therapy approaches are also crucial to the client’s mindset during rehab. Consider the following advantages to these methods:


Behavioral therapy provides a strong pillar of support for any client looking to achieve recovery. It gives the client someone to turn to when they have challenges.


Low self-esteem exists at the root of many mental and substance abuse disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy gives clients a chance to build self-esteem by finding solutions to problems.

Creates Positive Thoughts

Most mental disorders include negative thought patterns that can take over a client’s life. Behavioral therapy replaces these negative thought patterns with more positive ones.

Anger Management

Anger management often accompanies many mental health challenges. Behavioral therapy approaches help many people deal with their emotions in a healthier way.

Communication Skills

Anyone who suffers from anxiety, depression, and social anxiety may find it challenging to communicate in a healthy way. Behavioral therapy techniques teach effective and positive ways to communicate.

Better Coping Skills

Many disorders make it difficult to cope with stress and other challenging situations. Behavioral therapy teaches behaviors that allow people to express themselves in a healthier way to enable them to cope with problems that might develop.

Relapse Prevention

Individuals who suffer from mental health disorders are more prone to relapse. Behavioral therapy prepares them for dealing with triggers and other elements that might lead to relapse.

It’s important to remember that behavioral therapy isn’t a final solution for mental health challenges. It does have its limitations and setbacks, which is why it’s essential to consider all avenues of therapy.

Limitations of CBT and Other Behavioral Therapies

Certain limitations and pitfalls exist to behavioral approaches that may warrant the use of alternative methods in certain situations. Potential disadvantages to CBT and other therapies include:

  • Behavioral therapies typically require clients to spend time at home for self-monitoring and activities like journaling. In many cases, it can become very time-consuming.
  • Because behavioral therapies only focus on the present (current behaviors), it may be difficult to address underlying issues caused by past traumas. In these situations, dual diagnosis may be more effective.
  • CBT and other behavioral approaches focus on the self and sometimes leave out family and other important members of clients’ lives.

Just because a form of therapy is suitable for one client doesn’t mean it’s right for you. For more complex cases, cognitive-behavioral therapy works well combined with additional forms of treatment.

Behavioral Therapies as a Component of Holistic Care

While behavioral therapies focus only on one element of a person, holistic care addresses the whole individual. Behavioral therapy may not be the best approach when underlying causes exist or co-occurring disorders.

In cases of the latter, clients can benefit immensely from behavioral therapies combined with holistic approaches. Holistic care may also treat portions of the mind and body that traditional forms of treatment don’t address.

Combining these two forms of therapy in the right environment makes them even more effective.

What are the Benefits of Healing in Hawaii for Substance Use Disorders?

Benefits of Healing in Hawaii

Few places exist with the natural beauty of the Hawaiian Islands. Areas with picturesque displays of beautiful mountains and blue bodies of water are the perfect place to heal from depression and other disorders.

Many people believe the islands’ waters and land contain magical healing properties. Tales from the locals speak of ancient tribes that paid homage to the gods and goddesses that existed as energy inside the volcanoes and lakes of the area.

Hawaii is the perfect place to take advantage of a treatment program that uses a holistic approach to help clients achieve their goals.

Exclusive Hawaii: Achieving Goals with a Holistic Approach

Using a holistic approach is one of the best ways to realize goals in any mental health or substance abuse rehab. Because holistic healing encompasses the client’s entire mind, body, and spirit and not just one specific element, it’s much easier to achieve ALL of your goals.

This includes mental, physical, spiritual, and interpersonal goals. A holistic approach brings more balance to the recovery process, allowing clients to experience a more comprehensive treatment encounter.

At the Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, Lasting Recovery is Our Specialty

Through our holistic model of healing and unique setting in one of the most beautiful environments in the world, Exclusive Hawaii Rehab offers a healing opportunity like none other. Our compassionate staff is well-trained in holistic, behavioral, and many other forms of treatment to give our clients as many options as possible for personal growth and recovery.

Clients have access to top-of-the-line amenities at one of the most comfortable rehab experiences you could imagine. Every aspect of our program is conducive to healing the mind, body, and spirit to promote a robust, long-term recovery process.

We encourage you to contact a member of our Intake Coordination team to find out how we can help you experience a full recovery.