Behaviour Therapy and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy




Behaviour Therapy (BT) focuses on teaching children, adolescents and parents those specific “life coping” skills that they have not yet mastered to a sufficient degree to ensure that they can lead socially competent lives while managing stressful situations and the frustrations and disappointments of life.  Behaviour Therapy adopts an optimistic and positive attitude towards the human being’s ability to learn, practice and master those skills that are either still underdeveloped in their personality profile or that they would like to improve.  Such “skills-trainings” may include: Parent Competence Training, Anger Management Training, Assertiveness Training, Social Competence Training, Social Problem Solving Training, Emotional Intelligence Training, Anxiety Management, Stress Management, Conflict Resolution Training, Relaxation Training, Learning and Achievement Motivation Training, Training of Attention and Memory Skills, Time Management Training, Communication Training, etc., etc.

Children normally gradually and intuitively learn and master this whole range of life-coping skills simply by observing and copying socially competent, socially well-functioning role-models during their early developmental years.  This process is called “social learning”.  However, despite good role models and optimal developmental conditions, for various complex reasons, an optimal outcome may not materialize.  A child or young adolescent may not master one or more of these life coping skills to an adequate degree during their developmental early years to ensure that he or she will a resilient and socially competent personality structure.  Luckily, when these skills are underdeveloped, they can be systematically taught and practiced within the context of a Behaviour Therapy intervention.  A child, adolescent or parent who learns, practices and masters such skills will automatically improve his or her feeling of self-worth and self-confidence, develop an optimistic outlook on life and become a resilient and stress resistent person.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) focuses more on the internal cognitive processes that determine whether we develop and optimistic outlook on life and on our own ability to cope with the challenges of life or a pessimistic attitude towards life and our ability to cope with the challenges of life.   During the course of a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, the client is systematically guided through the process of first identifying and then systematically challenging and modifying those typical but “unhelpful” thinking patterns that tend to “trigger” his/her negative perceptions and emotions about him-/herself and/or his/her important relationships and/or life circumstances.  Negative perceptions and interpretations of our life circumstances tends to lead to feelings of being overwhelmed by the demands that life makes on us.  We then tend to react with anger and aggression towards those around us or we try to anxiously avoid coping with the demands of life or we resign to our fate and become lethargic.   These maladaptive behaviour patterns lead to chronic stress, conflicts in relationships and maladaptive personality development.  In CBT therapy, the focus is on systematically helping the client replace their typical “unhelpful” thinking patterns with “helpful/constructive/solution-oriented”  thinking patterns.  With this kind of optimistic thinking, the angry, anxious and depressed client will gradually be is able to develop enough courage and motivation to learn and practice more adaptive, goal-oriented, optimistic, coping, problem-solving behaviour.  A CBT treatment plan is usually combined with one or more Behaviour Therapy (BT) training programmes, depending on the specific deficits and needs of the client.