A behavioral therapist is an expert therapist who is licensed to treat individuals with mental health deficits.
They help change patients’ behaviors or their reactions to a particular event or situation in which they have difficulties coping with. Most people we know look normal but we only know a little of what lies behind their behaviors. It stems from a deeper reason why such a disorder occurs. As we go along, we will have a comprehensive definition on what a behavioral therapist is all about.
The Primary Task of a Behavioral Therapist
The task of behavioral therapist focuses on treating patients with various conditions and in different age groups starting from childhood. Among the conditions that a behavioral therapist can treat include addictions, mood disorders, anxiety, and phobias. In addition, depression, mental retardation, and attention deficit disorders are also included in the scope of care and treatment of the therapist. He or she can work alone by having own private practice, work as part of the health team, or work in the clinical setting such as the hospital or counseling centers. There are also behavioral therapists working in different schools.
- When therapists are starting their treatment, they usually attempt to distinguish disturbing patterns of behavior and deduct them by employing therapeutic techniques such as contingency management, exposure therapy, and modeling. This particular type of therapy is centered on making the patient aware of situations and events that yield negative reactions instead of focusing on unconscious thoughts and reactions. Through these techniques, a patient will develop coping strategies and learn how to avoid those reactions.
- Exposure Therapy:
This kind of therapy is commonly used by therapists as it involves exposing the patient to a normally troubling experience, thought, or memory while he or she is in a calm or relaxed state. This exposure is very effective in helping the patient deal with the root cause of the stress so that he or she will be able to think things clearly and develop coping techniques in response to their feelings and finally get rid of the symptoms.
- Modeling Therapy:
This therapy is also used by behavioral therapist in treating their patients. The process is that the patient would be instructed to observe another person as he would model a desired type of behavior, such as interacting with different people in a social affair. The key here is that the patient must see this kind of behavior as a positive trait and would not produce any negative effects. In due course, he will copy the certain behavior.
- Contingency Management:
This type of therapy mainly involves rewarding system to reinforce behaviors that are acceptable and desired while disregarding the unacceptable or unwanted behaviors. Sometimes, a therapist would employ a punishment for undesirable behavior. This is, however, not that effective as it yields further stress on the part of the patient.
How to Become a Behavioral Therapist
- You must obtain first a degree either in psychology, psychiatry, or counseling. If you acquired a bachelor’s degree, there may be limited career prospects but you are already assured to have an entry-level position. If you want to pursue and widen your career path, you can do so by obtaining a master’s degree or Doctors of Philosophy (Ph. D.) degree and at the same time securing the licensing necessary in their authority. When you reached this far, you can surely open a private clinic on your own.
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