Behavioral Therapies: any technique of behavior change that is based on the procedures of “operant conditioning.” (Cardwell, 29) Focuses on directly changing “maladaptive” behavior patterns by using basic "learning" principles and techniques. (Hockenbury, 556)

Intended to improve the behavioral functioning of the patient. "Emotional" and "cognitive" components are virtually ignored in favor of the behavioral components of the disorder. (Bamford, 11/1/10) (Behaviorists see) learning as a gradual strengthening of the relationship between a cue ("stimulus") and a “response” (behavior), as shaped by a pattern of "reinforcement." For the most part, behaviorists view the learning process as something controlled by the "instructor." (Marshall, 11/3/11) Also referred to as ‘behavior modification.’ Editor's note - developed by Mary Cover Jones.


Aversive Conditioning Therapy: used to extinguish unwanted behaviors such as drinking, smoking, nail-biting behaviors, etc. The unwanted behavior becomes associated with an aversive experience through conditioning. (Bamford, 11/1/10) In general, aversive conditioning is not very effective and its use is not widespread. (Hockenbury, 559) Editor's note - developed by John Garcia. Also referred to as ‘aversive conditioning.’

Taste Aversion: a classically conditioned dislike for and avoidance of a particular food that develops when an "organism" becomes ill after eating the food. (Hockenbury, 187)

Bell and Pad Therapy: used to treat nighttime bedwetting by conditioning arousal from sleep in response to bodily signals of a full bladder. Uses classical conditioning to pair 'arousal' with the sensation of a full bladder. (Hockenbury, 558)

Counter Conditioning: a procedure whereby an animal is trained to respond in a different way to a stimulus that is already conditioned, but produces an incompatible response. (Cardwell, 62) The learning of a new conditioned response that is incompatible with a previously learned response. (Hockenbury, 557)

Exposure Therapy: the person is repeatedly exposed to the disturbing object or situation under controlled conditions. Used for "phobias,"  "panic disorder,"  "post-traumatic stress disorder," or related "anxiety" disorders (Hockenbury, 573)

Anxiety Hierarchy: a listing of fears, from least intense to most intense. The patient is exposed to these fears systematically, from small fears to intense fears. The patient is also instructed in relaxation techniques that help to calm and prevent anxiety. Because phobias are anxiety disorders, the relaxation helps to diffuse the inherent anxiety of confronting a phobic stimulus. (Bamford, 11/1/10)

Systematic Desensitization: a type of therapy which is designed to reduce the anxiety that an individual feels when in the presence of a particular feared object. (Cardwell, 248) Used to treat phobias. Two important components are the construction of an anxiety hierarchy and the learning of various relaxation techniques. (Bamford, 11/1/10) Phobic responses are reduced by pairing relaxation with a series of mental images or real-life situations that the person finds progressively more fear-provoking. Based on the principle of counterconditioning. (Hockenbury, 556) The person is gradually exposed to the feared object, first through imagining it and then moving into actual physical situations involving the feared object. (Cardwell, 248)

Virtual Reality Therapy: consists of computer-generated scenes that are viewed using a special motion-sensitive helmet. Now being used in the treatment of specific phobias, including fear of flying, heights, spiders, and enclosed places. (Also used) in the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder in war veterans and others. (Hockenbury, 559) Immersing the patient in a full three-dimensional, interactive world that’s safe and programmable. Confronting a fear (such as fear of heights) in such an environment may result in the new non-traumatic experience rewriting the stored fear. (Blakeslee, 154) Also referred to as ‘virtual exposure therapy.’

Operant Conditioning Therapies: based on the principle of operant conditioning that behavior is shaped and maintained by its consequences. Includes positive and negative reinforcement, “extinction,” and “shaping.” Techniques have been applied to different kinds of problems, from habit and weight control, to helping autistic children learn to speak and behave more adaptively. (Hockenbury, 560)

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT): a therapy developed by psychologist Albert Ellis that helps neurotic patients systemically purge themselves of the tendency to think negative thoughts about themselves. (McCornack, 127)

Shaping Therapy: involves reinforcing successive approximations of a desired behavior. Often used to teach appropriate behaviors to patients who are mentally disabled by autism, mental retardation, or server mental illness. (Hockenbury, 560)

Token Economy Therapy: therapy in which the therapeutic environment is structured to reward desired behaviors with 'tokens' or points that may eventually be exchanged for tangible rewards. (Hockenbury, 560)

Contingency Management Intervention: involves specified behaviors, a target group of patients, and the use of vouchers or other conditioned reinforcers that can be exchanged for prizes, cash, or other rewards. Proven effective in the outpatient treatment of people who are dependent on heroin, cocaine, alcohol, or multiple drugs. (Hockenbury, 561)