Behavioral therapy is a type of depression counseling that analyzes behavioral patterns that lead to depressed feelings and promotes a change in negative, counterproductive behaviors.
Behavioral therapists work with their patients to come up with strategies to increase their number of positive experiences and decrease the amount of negative experiences they have in a week. The therapist also helps the patient to develop insights into certain negative behaviors, for example, why eating too much or not getting enough sleep only serves to prolong depressed mood and feelings.
And by studying the rewards the depressed person gets from continuing their negative, defeatist behaviors, behavioral therapy helps the individual to change them.
Cognitive therapy is one of the most effective treatments for depression. In fact, while many forms of depression counseling are coupled with medication therapy, the American Academy of Family Physicians states that cognitive therapy is one of the most beneficial forms of treatments for patients who wish to avoid or are resistant to medication.
The concept behind cognitive therapy, originally developed by psychiatrist Aaron Beck, is that the patient’s negative ideas, beliefs and self-talk lead to specific, depressive moods and behaviors. By examining and working to change these ideas and beliefs, the patient develops insight and the capacity to overcome depression. The therapist’s function is to assist the patient in reframing the negative beliefs and distorted thought patterns by coming up with proof that an alternative, positive and more functional belief system has more validity in reality and the patient’s life and can help the patient feel better.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, is a combination of behavioral therapy and cognitive therapy. The therapist assists the patient by examining current life problems, breaking them down into smaller pieces, and looking at how the patient has developed dysfunctional thinking patterns and subsequent negative, counterproductive behaviors that serve to reinforce the distorted thought patterns.
Depressed people generally have an unrealistic, negative viewpoint and develop their behaviors based on this. Patients learn how to change their negative thought patterns through re-framing; learning how to replace negative thoughts with more realistic, appropriate thoughts.
The therapist provides specific, realistic counterarguments to the patient’s often-distorted beliefs. The patient is empowered to choose to replace the negative, maladaptive thought patterns with the suggested, more realistic ones. As a result, patients develop more functional, appropriate and adaptive behaviors.
CBT is typically a short-term form of counseling, as the focus is not so much on events and life circumstances from the past, but rather how those events and circumstances influence the patient’s behavior today.
Another form of depression counseling is known as interpersonal therapy. It focuses on the way the depressed person relates to others and the world around them. Unsatisfactory interpersonal relationships are often a key cause of depression.
Together, the patient and therapist look at the ways in which the person communicates and expresses him or herself. They determine whether the patient is effectively displaying appropriate social skills, such as asserting themselves, relating well to others and using and interpreting social cues and other forms of social interaction.
The first few sessions tend to focus on the specific interpersonal issues that are causing problems which will then be worked on in the remaining sessions.
This form of depression counseling is usually associated with therapists who follow the teachings of Freud, although it is also a broad term used to characterize many different forms of psychotherapy.
The therapist acts as a neutral party, a blank slate, on whom the patient projects their deep-rooted feelings about their parents, partners and other significant relationships in their life. This type of treatment is usually long-term, as it involves the uncovering of long-held neuroses and maladaptive thought patterns and behaviors rooted in the patient’s early life. Change comes about by bringing these neuroses to light and the patient’s subsequent development of insight into previously repressed thoughts, behaviors and situations.