Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Behavioral Therapy

  • Glenn S. AshkanaziEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_2051


Behavior management; Behavior modification


Behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on changing and gaining control over unwanted behaviors based upon the principles of classical and operant conditioning. It is useful in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, smoking cessation, weight loss, stuttering, enuresis, tics, and other medical conditions.

Historical Background

Attempts to help people solve behavioral problems through attempts that closely mirror today’s “behavioral therapy” have a very long history. It is based on the idea that all behaviors are learned and in the case of psychotherapy, these unhealthy behaviors can be changed.

Nineteenth-century British penal colonies used “token economies” to reinforce inmates for obeying prison rules. The early Romans used “aversive conditioning” (e.g., placement of “putrid” spiders in the glasses of alcohol abusers) in order to decrease problem drinking. Seventeenth-century French...

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References and Readings

  1. Gelder, M. (1997). The future of behavior therapy. Journal of Psychotherapy Practice, 6(4), 285–293.Google Scholar
  2. Jacobs, H. (1993). Behavior analysis guidelines and brain injury rehabilitation: People, principles and programs. Gaithersburg: Aspen Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  3. Jacobs, H. (2014). Perspectives on behavior and acquired brain injury. NeuroRehabilitation, 34, 597–599.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Kazdin, A., & Hersen, M. (1980). The current status of behavior therapy. Behavior Modification, 4(3), 283–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Masters, J., Burish, T., Holton, S., & Rimm, D. (1987). Behavior therapy: Techniques and empirical findings. San Diego: Harcourt Press Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  6. Sobell, L., & Sobell, M. (2016). Individualized behavior therapy for alcoholics. Behavior Therapy, 47(6), 937–949.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. Wilson, K. (1997). Science and treatment development: Lessons from the history of behavior therapy. Behavior Therapy, 28, 547–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Clinical and Health Psychology ClinicCollege of Public Health and Health ProfessionsUniversity of Florida, GainesvilleUSA