The parents of a child with emotional or behavioral problems are often told that behavioral therapy is a good treatment avenue for their son or daughter.
Behavioral therapy is a broad term that encompasses many different therapeutic modalities. The more you know about these modalities, the better prepared you will be to pursue the one that will best meet the needs of your child.
1. Behavioral Activation
Behavioral activation is a therapeutic modality that is particularly helpful for children who suffer from depression.
Avoidance and withdrawal are common symptoms that children with depression exhibit. These symptoms can cause a child to stop engaging in activities that are rewarding and fun.
A therapist will ask the child to participate in an activity that the child has lost interest in due to depression. The more the child engages, the more positive rewards are received.
Behavioral activation allows children to recognize a link between activities and mood so that they are able to develop more healthy social patterns for the future.
2. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Many therapists believe that there is a link between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on teaching a child how changing one of these factors can have a positive impact on other factors.
Children with a wide range of behavioral and emotional problems can benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy.
A therapist will create a customized treatment plan that includes talk therapy and role-playing to help a child better understand how to identify and control their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in the future.
3. Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Originally developed to help children with borderline personality disorder, dialectical behavior therapy has been proven successful in helping children with eating disorders, depression, and substance abuse problems.
A dialectical approach to behavioral therapy is unique in the sense that it does not focus on trying to change negative thoughts. Instead, the focus of dialectical treatment is on accepting negative thoughts.
A therapist will work closely with a child to help them learn how to accept negativity rather than become overwhelmed by it. Once acceptance has been mastered, the child is able to learn skills that will help them avoid problematic behaviors that arise in response to negative thoughts.
The thought processes and patterns developed in childhood can influence a child's success well into adulthood. Behavioral therapy can be a valuable tool that will help your child overcome obstacles and learn to be more engaged.