What Are The Key Differences Between Behavioral Therapy And Cognitive Therapy?

There are several approaches that therapists can use when helping patients with rehabilitation from PTSD and other forms of anxiety. Two of the most common types of therapies are cognitive therapy and applied behavioral therapy.

Cognitive Therapy is All About Your Thoughts and Feelings

The goal of cognitive therapy is to focus on how a patient thinks and feels. How an individual feels impacts how he or she behaves. Oftentimes, patients aren't aware of what they think about and make decisions in a passive manner. Common foci include the ways in which the patient thinks, the ways he or she acts based on his or her thoughts, and how the patient responds to medical and physical problems. Those who need cognitive therapy often state that they feel worthless. However, it's often not clear what the root causes are of these feelings. By examining thoughts in real-time, it becomes easier to challenge and change them. 

Behavioral Therapy is About Rewards and Conditioning

The goal of behavioral therapy is to use a system of rewards and punishments to help a patient change his or her behavior. There might be less of a discussion over one's thoughts and feelings, though you may still be able to share them with your therapist. In many ways, the goal of behavioral therapy is geared toward specific practical skills. For example, the therapist might focus on assisting the patient in improving his or her hygiene or developing better communication skills. These techniques are effective because they are based on theories of behavior and learning that have been proven to be true. The therapist might give you a command during behavioral therapy. If you refuse the follow the command, the therapist will ignore your refusal and continue to issue the command. This is done until you finally comply. 

Behavioral therapy is based on the idea that a brain can be gradually conditioned to give a particular response. For example, if you have a family member who always cooks a delicious breakfast every Sunday, you may feel your mouth watering each Sunday morning before he or she even gets started cooking. This aspect of human nature can be used to change undesirable behaviors.

One way to determine which one would work better for you is to try each out. When you feel that one form of therapy has failed to help you with your PTSD, you may instead choose a different therapy. Contact an outpatient rehabilitation center for more information.