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What Is Behavioral Counseling?

This article takes a look at what behavioral counseling is, the different types, techniques, and what it can help with.

Behavioral Counseling Overview

Behavioral health counseling, also known as behavioral therapy, is a form of psychotherapy that utilizes a wide range of methods for altering unhealthy or unwanted behaviors in individuals.

Behavioral health counseling is one of the most widely utilized forms of psychotherapy, and it’s worth mentioning that this behavioral counseling has played and still plays significant roles in addiction and substance abuse treatment. You should know, however, that “behavior counseling” is a blanket term containing several different types of behavioral therapy. Nevertheless, these types of building behaviors counseling are based on the same fundamental behavioral counseling theory.

Behavioral Counseling Theory

Behavioral counseling theory states that all behaviors are learned, so it’s possible to replace negative, unwanted behaviors with more acceptable and positive ones.1

Because of this, the behavioral approach to counseling differs from other forms of therapy, usually based on insight. The behavioral approach to counseling is very focused and focused on the identification and “overwriting” of unhealthy behaviors with positive ones.2

What Does a Behavioral Counselor Do?

A behavioral counselor specializes in behavioral health and all its intricacies, i.e., a behavioral disorder counselor employs the behavioral approach to counseling, which involves them working with clients to identify behaviors that interfere with the ability of their clients to reach their full potential.

To do this, a behavioral disorder counselor will spend a lot of time monitoring the individual and making notes about them. This way, they can develop successful and effective counselor treatment plans tailored to each individual.3

What are the Types of Behavioral Counseling?

The different types of behavioral counseling will be detailed below.

Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied behavior analysis (ABA), also known as behavioral engineering, is a type of behavioral counseling that uses empirical methods based on concepts of response and operant conditioning to alter socially significant behavior. In much simpler terms, applied behavior analysis uses respondent and operant conditioning techniques to alter unwanted behaviors.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a cognitive approach to counseling. CBT counseling is one of the most commonly used counseling techniques, and it involves adding a “cognitive element” to therapy. Rather than only focusing on altering unwanted behaviors, this therapy also focuses on thoughts that might be responsible for these behaviors.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) is one of the interventions used in counseling that focus on thought and its impacts on behaviors. REBT aims at helping people recognize unpleasant or harmful thoughts and then helping them replace these unwanted thoughts with rational, practical ones.

Social Learning Theory

This is a form of advanced behavioral counseling focusing on how people pick up knowledge through observation. This advanced behavioral counseling believes that people can experience modifications in their learning and behavior from interacting socially and seeing others get “rewards” or “punishments” for their activities.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavioral therapy is an advanced behavioral therapy that teaches individuals how to control their emotions better, deal with stress, and build stronger interpersonal connections using behavioral and cognitive techniques or approaches.

What Behavioral Counseling Can Help With

Behavioral counseling has achieved excellent results in treating several medical conditions. Some of the conditions behavioral counseling can help with include the following:


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Alcohol and substance use disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)

  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Benefits of Behavioral Counseling

Behavioral counseling also has several other benefits. These include:

  • Improves communication effectiveness
  • Helps people develop excellent coping strategies
  • Contributes to the development of healthier thought patterns
  • Boosts self-esteem

Is Behavioral Counseling Effective?

Studies have shown that behavioral counseling is very effective in helping people undergoing treatment achieve excellent treatment results. However, it should be noted that treatment efficacy depends on several factors, such as the specific type of behavioral counseling and the condition for which behavioral counseling is used.

How to Find a Behavioral Counselor?

If you’re interested in getting started with behavioral therapy, here are some ways you can do just that:

  • Ask for recommendations from your doctor or primary health care provider
  • Reach out to your health insurance provider
  • Ask your therapist, or enquire from social workers
  • Google search to find behavioral counselors near you

Find Out More About Behavioral Counseling at San Diego Detox

For more information about behavioral counseling, its efficacy in treatment, and how to get started with behavioral counseling, contact San Diego Detox. At San Diego Detox, we offer high-quality, individual-focused therapy guaranteed to help you achieve the therapy results you desire.4

Techniques of Behavioral Counseling

There are two main behavioral techniques in counseling, and these counseling techniques employ unique approaches to achieve the desired behavior changes. The two main types of behavioral techniques in counseling are classical conditioning and operant conditioning.

Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning focuses on creating various associations between stimuli. It involves pairing stimuli that elicits reactions with neutral stimuli. When these different pairings are made repeatedly, a connection is created, and the neutral stimulus will start to elicit a reaction on its own. This therapy method employs various methods and procedures to change behaviors. The different methods include:

  • Aversion therapy
  • Flooding
  • Systematic desensitization

Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning focuses on how rewards and penalties can alter a behavior’s frequency. Positive repercussions make behaviors more likely to repeat themselves in the future, whereas negative ones make behaviors less likely to repeat themselves. Techniques of operant conditioning include:

  • Contingency management
  • Extinction
  • Behavior modeling
  • Token economies