What Is Behavior Therapy?

Behavior therapy began in the late 1950's with the work of Joseph Wolpe in the United States and Hans Eysenck in England. Cognitive-behavioral therapy was developed from this earlier work by researchers and clinicians such as Albert Ellis (1962), Aaron Beck (1976) and Donald Meichenbaum (1977).

The treatment was developed as a result of the frustration experienced when the analytical psychotherapy that they were employing was not creating the changes in their patients that they had assumed would occur. They also realized that the analytic process was a long and laborious one. What they discovered was that their patients' thoughts were producing negative or painful feelings and that these feelings were creating maladaptive behaviors and reactions.

By using cognitive behavior therapy and its variants, it was discovered that a person's thoughts could be challenged and that appropriate intervention could be initiated. It was believed and proven that when a person changes maladaptive thinking (faulty assumptions and core beliefs), then changes in feelings and behavior will occur. In addition, the use of specific behavioral strategies such as relaxation training, assertiveness training, and stress inoculation, help patients to apply new behaviors to their environment.

Scientific studies have consistently supported behavior therapy and its effectiveness. Most patients respond rapidly and find that they are able to alter both their thoughts and behaviors in months rather than years. For more than two decades, the staff at Westchester Center for Behavior Therapy has used these techniques with great success.


Cognitive Therapy Links

About.com Guide on Cognitive Therapy

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