Behavioral psychotherapy

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Behavioral psychotherapy is a type of psychotherapy from the behaviourism tradition, and one of two streams of thought (the other being cognitive psychotherapy) that have come together to produce cognitive behavioral therapy.

Behavioral psychotherapy has a rich tradition in research and practice. From a purely behavioral perspective, behavior therapy has shown considerable success with patients from a variety of problems. Traditional behavior therapy draws from respondent conditioning and operant conditioning to solve patients problems.

Current forms[edit]

Behavioral therapy based on operant and respondent principles has considerable evidence base to support its usage.[1] This approach remains a vital area of clinical psychology and is often termed clinical behavior analysis. Behavioral psychotherapy has become increasingly contextual in recent years.[2] Behavioral psychotherapy has developed greater interest in recent years in personality disorders[3] as well as a greater focus on acceptance[4] and complex case conceptualizations.[5]

One current form of behavioral psychotherapy is functional analytic psychotherapy. Functional analytic psychotherapy is a longer duration behavior therapy.[6] Functional analytic therapy focuses on in-session use of reinforcement and is primarily a relationally-based therapy.[7][8] As with most of the behavioral psychotherapies, functional analytic psychotherapy is contextual in its origins and nature.[9] and draws heavily on radical behaviorism and functional contextualism.

Functional analytic psychotherapy holds to a process model of research, which makes it unique compared to traditional behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.[10][11]

Functional analytic psychotherapy has a strong research support. Recent functional analytic psychotherapy research efforts are focusing on management of aggressive inpatients.[12]

In rehabilitation[edit]

Currently, there is a greater call for behavioral psychologists to be involved in rehabilitation efforts.[13]


Recent efforts in behavioral psychotherapy have focused on the supervision process.[14] A key point of behavioral models of supervision is that the supervisory process parallels the behavioral psychotherapy.[15]

Professional organizations[edit]

The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) has a special interest group for practitioner issues, behavioral counseling, and clinical behavior analysis ABA:I. ABAI has larger special interest groups for autism and its peculiar and narrow interpretation of behavioral medicine. ABAI serves as the core intellectual home for behavior analysts.[16][17] ABAI sponsors two conferences/year – one in the U.S. and one international.

The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) also has an interest group in behavior analysis, which focuses on clinical behavior analysis. In addition, the Association for Behavioral an Cognitive Therapies has a special interest group on addictions.

Doctoral-level behavior analysts who are psychologists belong to American Psychological Association's division 25 – Behavior analysis. APA offers a diplomate in behavioral psychology.

The World Association for Behavior Analysis offers a certification in behavior therapy [4].

See also[edit]


  1. ^ William O'Donohue and Kyle E. Ferguson (2006): Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology and Behavior Analysis. The Behavior Analyst Today, 7(3), pp. 335–50 BAO
  2. ^ Patrick S. Mulick, Sara J. Landes and Jonathan W. Kanter (2006). Contextual Behavior Therapies in the Treatment of PTSD: A Review. IJBCT, 1(3), 223–38 BAO
  3. ^ Phelps, Brady J. (2001) Personality, Personality "Theory" and Dissociative Identity Disorder: What Behavior Analysis Can Contribute and Clarify. The Behavior Analyst Today, 2(4), 325–36 BAO
  4. ^ Auguston, E. (2000) Issues of Acceptance in Chronic Pain Populations. The Behavior Analyst Today, 1(1), 14–7 [1]
  5. ^ Richard F. Farmer (2005): Temperament, Reward and Punishment Sensitivity, and Clinical Disorders: Implications for Behavioral Case Formulation and Therapy. IJBCT, 1(1), pp. 56–65 BAO
  6. ^ Kohlenberg & Tsai. Functional analytic psychotherapy: building intense and curative relationships. Plenum press.
  7. ^ Kohlenberg, Boiling, Kanter & Parker (2002) Clinical Behavior Analysis: Where It Went Wrong, How It Was Made Good Again, and Why Its Future is So Bright. The Behavior Analyst Today, 3(3), 248–53 BAO
  8. ^ Williams (2002) Constructing a Behavior Analytical Helping Process. The Behavior Analyst Today, 3(3), 262–4 BAO
  9. ^ Wulfert (2002) Can Contextual Therapies Save Clinical Behavior Analysis? The Behavior Analyst Today, 3(3), 254–8
  10. ^ Gifford, E. (2002) Socrates and the Dodo Bird: Clinical Behavior Analysis and Psychotherapy Research. The Behavior Analyst Today, 3(3), 259–61
  11. ^ Augustson (2002) An Overview of Some Current Challenges within the Field of Clinical Behavior Analysis. The Behavior Analyst Today, 3(3), 265–70 [2]
  12. ^ Michael Daffern (2007) Assessing The Functions Of Aggression In Psychiatric Inpatients. The Behavior Analyst Today, Volume 8, No. 1, 43–51 BAO
  13. ^ Gregory C. Murphy & Neville J. King (2007). Clinical data illustrating the need for greater involvement of behaviourally-oriented psychologists in the design and delivery of rehabilitation services. Behavior Analyst Today, 8(3), 273–83 BAO Archived 2013-07-06 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Walser, R.D. & Westrup, D. (2006). Supervising Trainees in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy, 2(1), 12–16 BAO
  15. ^ Callaghan, G.M. Functional Analytic Psychotherapy and Supervision. IJBCT, 2(3), 416–31 [3]
  16. ^ Twyman, J.S. (2007). A new era of science and practice in behavior analysis. Association for Behavior Analysis International: Newsletter, 30(3), 1–4.
  17. ^ Hassert, D.L.; Kelly, A.N.; Pritchard, J.K. & Cautilli, J.D. (2008). The Licensing of Behavior Analysts: Protecting the profession and the public. Journal of Early and Intensive Behavior Intervention, 5(2), 8–19 BAO