Modern Applications for Behavior and Cognitive Behavoral Theory
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Modern Applications for Behavior and Cognitive Behavoral Theory

There are over 350 different therapies that are practiced in psychology today. The most popular of these therapies is cognitive Behavioral therapy which combines the principles of learning theory. The principles of learning theory are applied to behavioral and cognitive therapy. The former stipulates that humans learn through their behavior, and the latter stipulates that humans learn and or change their behavior through logic.

Psychologists and counselors treat patients in their offices.  However, how they treat their patients depends on the type of psychologist or counselor they are and the type of therapy they adhere to. 

There are over 350 different kinds of therapies that are practiced today.  The most used is cognitive behavioral psychology which is a combination of the older behavioral psychology and the newer cognitive psychology. 

Behavioral therapy is derived from learning theory.  Learning theory states that we learn by doing things over and over again until we get it right.  One of the most famous learning theorists was Ivan Pavlov who found that his dogs learned that they would get food (reward) after hearing a bell ring (stimulus).  The dogs salivated in anticipation of the food which was then called a reward.  His experiment involved clamping the dog’s mouths and may be considered cruel today, but he applied his finding to human behavior.  This understanding of how we learn is still used today. 

The education system uses learning theory to reward young children with stars on perfect work pages and so on.  Weight loss programs uses behavioral therapy to change the way we react to food and so on. 

B.F. Skinner proved through operant conditioning, a form of behavioral therapy, that his chickens would peck in anticipation of food.  They were so conditioned to peck that they would still peck even if they did not get food every time.  Casinos and government lotteries work on the same principles, people bet knowing they won’t win every time but they have a chance of winning and so they continue to play just like the chickens continue to peck.

Another concept of the learning theory is trial and error.  How many times have you told your teenagers not to do something, but they just had to do it and they had to learn for themselves that that behavior got them into serious trouble.  Even some adults will not listen to others until they tried and find out for themselves that they should have listened to others.

Curing phobias is also based on the learning theory using a type of therapy called behavior modification.  A fear is treated in what is called a desensitization model. Here the person is slowly introduced to his or her fear until it is no longer fearful for them.

Learning theorists can get people to stop doing something they shouldn’t by taking away the reward.  Extinguishing a bad behavior is based on learning theory.  When a child is crying for attention a mother learns to ignore the behavior and the child stops crying, taking a tantrum, or whatever the behavior is.  For a child if the reward is attention ignoring the child will extinguish the bad behavior.

Cognitive therapy is about applying logic to overcome maladaptive behavior. It is about showing the patient how illogical their actions or their thought processes are.  Often people are afraid to do something and that is the only reason they don’t do it.  This holds them back from being successful productive individuals.  For example, they may not look for a new job for fear they won’t find one, or for fear they are not good enough and so on.

Cognitive behavioral theory will combine both behavior and logic in their model for a more comprehension therapy.


My training and counseling practice

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Comments (2)
Ranked #3 in Psychology

I am always glad when I see your articles published. I learn so much from your information.Thank  you.

Ranked #2 in Psychology

thanks so much Roberta, I appreciate your support