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What is Behavioral Counseling and Does it Help?

March 6, 2021

10 min read

Author : United We Care
What is Behavioral Counseling and Does it Help?
Behavioral counseling is an umbrella term that covers different types of therapies to help treat behavioral disorders. The goal of counseling is to help eliminate undesirable behaviors and reinforce desirable ones. Behavioral therapy is based on the concept of behaviorism that focuses on the idea that human beings learn from their environment.

Mental Health Disorders Treated with Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy can be utilized to treat a wide range of mental health disorders such as:

1. Anxiety

2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

3. Depression

4. Panic Disorders

5. Phobias

6. Bipolar Disorder

7. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

8. Self-Harm

9. Eating Disorders

10. Substance Abuse

11. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

12. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

13. Anger Issues

Behavioral therapy has shown effective results in treating all the aforementioned mental disorders. A study revealed that amongst the many behavioral therapies, cognitive behavioral therapy showed successful results in about 75% of the people.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy has been effective while treating mental disorders such as:

  • Somatic symptom disorder
  • Anger issues
  • Stress
  • Bulimia
  • Substance abuse
  • Depression

However, this does not indicate that cognitive-behavioral therapy or other types of behavioral therapies are the only types that have shown successful results. Also, behavioral therapy may not work for every mental health disorder.

For instance, a study found that cognitive-behavioral therapy’s effectiveness in treating substance abuse depends on the amount of substance misused. There have been some successful benefits of cognitive-behavioral therapy for a few symptoms of schizophrenia. However, the therapy showed no effects on relapse and hospital admission than other treatment types.

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Causes of Behavior Disorders

The exact cause of the various types of behavior disorders is not known yet. However, with more research, it is becoming clear that behavior disorders are caused by a combination of psychological, biological and environmental factors.

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors that may cause behavior disorders are:

  • Loss of someone important in the family, such as a parent at an early age
  • Poor ability to relate with other people
  • Severe trauma suffered at an early age, such as sexual or mental abuse
  • Neglect

Biological Factors

Biological factors that may contribute to behavior disorders include:

  • Genetics 

    Sometimes, behavior disorders run in the family, which suggests that you are at an increased risk of developing one if a family member has a type of behavior disorder. Scientists believe that many behavior disorders are linked to different genes of a person and how these genes interact with the environment. It differs in identical twins as well.
  • Brain Injury

    Injuries to certain parts of the brain can also cause behavior disorders.
  • Substance Abuse 

    Studies suggest that prolonged exposure and abuse of certain substances may cause depression, anxiety or paranoia.
  • Infection

    Some infections have been linked to brain damage and causing behavior disorders. It is also known to worsen the symptoms of behavior disorders. 
  • Other Factors 

    Exposure to certain toxins such as lead and poor nutrition are believed to cause behavior disorders in some cases.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors that play a role in the development of behavior disorders include:

  • A dysfunctional family
  • Changing schools or jobs frequently
  • Divorce or a death in the family
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anger
  • The feeling of inadequacy
  • Anxiety

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When to Seek Help for Behavior Disorders 

While deciding when to seek help for behavior disorders, you should consider many important factors. Some of these factors are related to your social interactions, the level of your subjective distress and other symptoms of behavior disorder.

Social interactions

Your social relationships can be affected by behavioral and emotional issues. It can have a negative impact on your life. Sometimes, these issues can create obstacles in your day-to-day responsibilities as well. Individuals suffering from behavioral and emotional issues may feel withdrawn and disconnected from friends and family. It is common to have disruptions for a small period in your daily routine. However, if the disruptions and distractions last for a long time, you should consider seeking help from a mental health professional.

Subjective Stress

Subjective Stress could stem due to a feeling of unhappiness & dissatisfaction for a prolonged period of time. You can ask yourself the following questions to have a better understanding about this:

  • Are you happy with the life you are living?
  • Would you like your life or some parts of it to be different?
  • Are you happy and content with your life?

It is quite normal to feel unhappy or dissatisfied with life sometimes, particularly when going under stressful conditions such as divorce, death of a loved one, or job loss. However, if it goes on for weeks or months, you should consider seeking help from a mental health professional.

When Do Behavioral Disorder Symptoms Start Showing?

Emotional and behavior issues are associated with various thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and behaviors, known as symptoms. These can vary between how much or how little they affect you and your life. If your symptoms affect you too much and last for a longer time, you should seek help from a mental health professional.

Types of Behavior Therapy

There are many different types of behavior therapy to cater to people suffering from mental health disorders. While many of these behavioral therapies can be facilitated by a counselor or social worker, some severe cases of mental disorders require the help of a certified mental health professional.

The following are some of the common behavioral therapies used to treat mental disorders:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
  • Aversion Therapy
  • Systematic Desensitization
  • Art Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Internet-based Cognitive Behavior Therapy (iCBT)
  • Hypnotherapy
  • CBT Play Therapy

Each of these therapies focuses differently on the mental disorder or the situation the individual might be experiencing. These therapies work in different ways for different people. For example, some therapies might work better for adults, whereas others might work well for children. Finding out which therapy might work the best for you is decided based on your thought process and your therapist’s thoughts.


Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a general term used to treat a wide variety of emotional difficulties and mental illnesses. The therapy helps eliminate or control the symptoms to ensure that the individual functions better. Psychotherapy helps with problems such as the impact of trauma, specific mental disorders, difficulty coping with life and loss such as a family member’s death. The therapy may also be used in combination with medications or other forms of behavioral therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of behavioral therapy that helps you learn how to identify, control or change your disturbing or destructive thought patterns. A CBT therapist helps you focus on changing the negative thoughts you may have no control over. These recurring negative thoughts can have a major influence on your mood as well. With the help of CBT, such thoughts are identified, analyzed and replaced with positive and realistic thoughts.

You can also seek cognitive behavioral therapy online through our homepage.

Aversion Therapy

Aversion therapy consists of repeated pairing of unwanted behavior with discomfort. For instance, if a person is undergoing aversion therapy to stop smoking, they might receive an electrical shock every time they see the image of a cigarette. During this type of therapy, the person may be asked to think or engage with a behavior they find pleasant while being exposed to something unpleasant such as mild electric shocks or a foul smell. Once these unpleasant sensations become associated with the behavior, hope is that the person would stop engaging with them in the long run.

Systematic Desensitization

Systematic Desensitization, also known as Graduated Exposure Therapy, is a behavioral therapy that focuses on combining relaxation techniques with gradual exposure to help you get over a phobia and anxiety-related disorders. It makes you work your way up to your levels of fear. The therapy is based on the principles of classic conditioning and believes that things or behaviors that have been learned can be unlearned. Research shows that systematic desensitization has shown successful results in reducing panic attacks and anxiety related to fearful situations.

Art Therapy

Art therapy, also known as Expressive Art Therapy or Creative Art Therapy, helps people express and understand their emotions through this creative process. It aims at improving a person’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. The therapy can help people resolve their issues, manage their behaviors and feelings, improve self-esteem and reduce stress.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a type of behavioral therapy that aims at providing people with new techniques and skills to help decrease conflict in their relationships and manage painful thoughts and emotions.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy focuses specifically on providing therapeutic skills in 4 key areas:

  • Mindfulness

    Helps improve an individual’s ability to accept the current situation.
  • Distress Tolerance

    Aims at increasing an individual’s tolerance for negative emotions.
  • Emotion Regulation

    Provides strategies that help manage and change problem-causing emotions.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness

    Allows an individual to maintain healthy and respectful communication with others.

Internet-Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy (iCBT)

Internet-based Cognitive Behavior Therapy (iCBT) is a form of behavioral therapy that helps provide mental health assistance to people through a digital platform accessible from any part of the world. This therapy is a combination of virtual access and the same benefits of in-person therapy sessions. iCBT has had some successful results in providing help to people suffering from a wide range of mental health disorders such as pain management, anxiety and depression.


Hypnotherapy, also known as guided hypnosis, is a type of behavioral therapy that requires extreme concentration, relaxation and attention to achieve a state of mindfulness. It helps put the individual into an altered state of awareness, also called a trance. The therapy aims at creating a positive change in an individual while they are in a state of unconsciousness.

CBT Play Therapy

A type of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, CBT Play Therapy is a sensitive treatment developed specifically for young children. The therapy consists of a modeling component that acts as a demonstration for explaining adaptive coping skills. Cognitive change is communicated, and more adaptive behaviors are introduced to the child indirectly with the help of play.

Online Behavior Counseling Treatment Program

Online therapy is becoming one of the top ways in which people seek behavior counseling for treating the different types of behavior disorders. One of the best online therapy programs, United We Care is the largest aggregator of licensed, experienced and accredited counselors and therapists for treating behavioral disorders. Just search for your mental health disorder, complete an assessment test and our software will match you with relevant therapists where you can select the one that fits your needs. After this, you can choose to have a single counseling session or choose a subscription plan. It’s quick, easy and simple to seek help for behavioral counseling online using the United We Care website or app which can be downloaded from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

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Author : United We Care

Founded in 2020, United We Care (UWC) is providing mental health and wellness services at a global level, UWC utilizes its team of dedicated and focused professionals with expertise in mental healthcare, to solve 2 essential missing components in the market, sustained user engagement and program efficacy/outcomes.

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