Behavior therapy

Behavior therapy

The use of classical and operant conditioning principles to bring about therapeutic change. Techniques of behavior therapy include systematic desensitization, flooding, biofeedback, aversion therapy, shaping, and
token economies. Behavior therapy has been particularly successful in treating phobias.


In 1952, Hans Eysenck coined this term in reference to a type of treatment that focuses on changing or reducing the occurrence of some maladaptive behavior as opposed to simply examining the unconscious conflicts or aspects associated with the maladaptive behavior. So instead of trying to “get to the root of a problem”, behavior therapy aims to get rid of the problem regardless of the feelings about the behavior, the underlying causes, etc. In addition, behavior therapy is based on the premise that maladaptive behavior, like adaptive behaviors, are learned, and therefore can be unlearned. Thus, behavior therapies (like systematic desensitization, aversion therapy, and behavior modification) are based on the principles of learning.

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