The Ultimate Guide to Behavioral Counseling Options


Introduction to Behavioral Counseling

Are you feeling overwhelmed by your emotions, trapped in a cycle of negative thoughts and behaviors? Behavioral Counseling, a therapeutic approach designed to change problematic behaviors and thought patterns, could be your savior. For those wading through the sea of turmoil and confusion, amid feelings of being misunderstood and lacking effective coping mechanisms, behavioral counseling offers a lifeline.

Understanding the Meaning of Behavioral Counseling

Behavioral counseling, often referred to as behavior therapy, is a demonstrated approach used to disrupt the unhealthy or unhelpful patterns and replace them with healthier, beneficial ones. We at DBT of South Jersey utilize this method to help our clients free themselves from the chains of persistent adverse behaviors and emotions.

The Role of a Behavioral Counselor

As behavioral counselors, our role goes beyond mere ‘listening.’ We assume the critical responsibility of identifying and changing learned behaviors that may be negatively impacting your life. We stand as your ally in your battle against conditions such as depression, anxiety, phobias, addictions, and more.

Your essential takeaway
– Behavioral counseling is a form of therapy that aims to change self-destructing behaviors and thoughts.
– The goal is to replace them with healthier, more beneficial ones.
– Behavioral counselors are skilled professionals who guide and support you through your healing journey.
– These specialists treat a wide range of conditions including, but not limited to, depression, anxiety, phobias, and addictions.

Information about behavioral counseling - behavioral counseling infographic pillar-5-steps

The Behavioral Approach in Counseling

In behavioral counseling, emphasis is placed on the present circumstances and the observable behaviors that may be causing distress or hindering personal growth. The approach is action-oriented and practical, focusing on specific behaviors and the responses they elicit.

The Principles of Behavioral Therapy

At the heart of behavioral therapy lie certain core principles. Shaelene Lauriano Kite, a topic expert at DBT of South Jersey, outlines these principles that form the foundation of our therapy sessions.

  1. Behavior is learned and can be unlearned: This principle posits that maladaptive behaviors, such as overeating or substance abuse, are learned responses to specific situations or stimuli. Through behavioral therapy, these behaviors can be unlearned and replaced with healthier alternatives.
  2. Therapy is active and directive: Behavioral therapy is not a passive process. Both the therapist and the client actively participate in identifying problematic behaviors and working towards changing them.
  3. Focus on the present: While past experiences can influence present behavior, in behavioral therapy, the focus is on altering current behaviors and responses.
  4. Emphasis on measurable changes: Progress in behavioral therapy is often gauged through observable and quantifiable changes in behavior. This data-driven approach allows for objective assessment of therapeutic outcomes.

The Process of Behavioral Therapy

The process of behavioral therapy typically begins with a comprehensive assessment to identify problematic behaviors and the situations that trigger them. This forms the basis for developing a personalized treatment plan.

The treatment plan may incorporate various techniques such as exposure therapy, relaxation exercises, and cognitive restructuring, among others. For instance, exposure therapy can be used to treat phobias by gradually exposing the client to the feared object or situation until the fear response is diminished.

Active participation is key in behavioral therapy. Clients are encouraged to practice new behaviors and coping strategies in real-life situations and report back on their experiences. Regular feedback and adjustments ensure that the therapeutic approach remains effective and responsive to the client’s needs.

In conclusion, behavioral therapy provides a structured, action-oriented approach to managing and overcoming a range of mental health challenges. At DBT of South Jersey, our team of experts is committed to providing compassionate and effective behavioral counseling tailored to your unique needs. Explore our individual DBT therapy and children & teens therapy to learn more about how we can support you on your journey towards mental well-being.

Examples of Behavioral Counseling

In the realm of behavioral counseling, there are numerous approaches and techniques that therapists use to assist clients in managing or overcoming their mental health challenges. Two of the most prevalent techniques used in behavioral counseling are Exposure Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Using Exposure Therapy in Behavioral Counseling

Exposure Therapy is a technique used in behavioral counseling to help individuals confront and reduce the fear associated with certain situations, objects, or thoughts. This technique is commonly used to treat conditions such as phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

In Exposure Therapy, the therapist helps the client create a hierarchy of fears, starting from the least to the most anxiety-provoking situations. The client is then gradually exposed to these fears, either by imagining the situation or confronting it in real life. The core idea is to help the client realize that their fears are often irrational and that they can manage their anxiety in these situations.

At DBT of South Jersey, we practice Exposure Therapy with utmost care and respect for our client’s comfort levels. Our therapists work with you to develop exposures that gradually build your confidence and resilience. This is done at a pace agreed upon by both the therapist and the client, ensuring that you never feel overwhelmed or rushed in the process. Learn more about our approach to Exposure Response Prevention (EXRP) here.

Exposure Therapy - behavioral counseling

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in Practice

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is another widely used therapeutic approach in behavioral counseling. CBT focuses on identifying and challenging cognitive distortions (irrational or inaccurate thoughts) and maladaptive behaviors that contribute to psychological distress.

The premise of CBT is that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected, and changing our thoughts and behaviors can positively impact our feelings and overall mental health. It involves setting goals, being an active participant in the therapy process, and often includes homework tasks to reinforce learning and progress.

CBT can effectively treat a broad range of conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, and panic disorders. For instance, a study revealed that CBT has shown substantial improvement in emotion regulation in children with autism spectrum disorder.

At DBT of South Jersey, we offer individual DBT therapy, which is a type of CBT, to help our clients develop effective skills for managing emotions, improving interpersonal relationships, and enhancing their quality of life.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - behavioral counseling

In conclusion, both Exposure Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are powerful tools in the behavioral counseling toolbox. They offer practical, evidence-based strategies to help individuals overcome their fears and improve their mental health. However, the most important aspect of any therapy is the therapeutic relationship. At DBT of South Jersey, we strive to create a supportive, understanding, and collaborative environment where you feel safe to explore and overcome your challenges.

Behavioral Counseling for Children

When it comes to kids, early intervention is key. Behavioral counseling for children isn’t just about addressing existing mental health issues, but also about helping them build a strong foundation for their future mental health.

The Importance of Early Intervention in Children’s Mental Health

The sooner we address a child’s mental health challenges, the better. Early intervention can help children reduce problems at home, in school, and in forming friendships, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Furthermore, it can foster healthy development into adulthood, a vital aspect of ensuring their long-term well-being.

Parent Training in Behavior Management

The role of parents in a child’s therapy journey cannot be overstated. In fact, a common type of behavioral counseling involves parent training in behavior management. Here, therapists work closely with parents, equipping them with skills to manage their child’s behavior effectively. This approach doesn’t just benefit the child – it empowers parents to actively contribute to their child’s mental health journey.

In our practice at DBT of South Jersey, we believe that therapy should not only focus on the child but also involve the family. We encourage parents to practice these management skills with their child, either during the therapy session or at home. This creates a supportive environment for the child, reinforcing the therapy’s effectiveness.

Cognitive-Behavior Therapy for Children

Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) is another effective technique for children’s behavioral counseling. It focuses on changing the thoughts and emotions that can negatively affect a child’s behavior.

In CBT, the therapist helps the child become aware of their thoughts and feelings and evaluate if these may be distorted or illogical. Then, the therapist guides the child through the process of changing these thoughts, as well as the emotional reactions and behaviors that accompany them.

For the most common childhood conditions, like ADHD, behavior disorders, anxiety, or depression, approaches using behavior therapy and cognitive-behavior therapy are more likely to reduce symptoms. However, as we’ve learned through our experiences at DBT of South Jersey, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. The therapy type and approach must be tailored to each child’s unique needs and situation.

The goal of behavioral counseling for children is to help them manage their symptoms and thrive in their daily life. Through early intervention, parent involvement, and appropriate therapy techniques, we can make a significant difference in children’s mental health.

Different Types of Behavioral Counseling

Behavioral counseling is a broad term encompassing various types of therapies, each designed to help individuals alter destructive or harmful behaviors in favor of healthier ones. We at DBT of South Jersey utilize a range of these therapies to provide tailored treatment plans based on our clients’ unique needs. Here’s an overview of some of the most commonly used types of behavioral counseling:

Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Therapies

These therapies, pioneered by Sigmund Freud, focus on uncovering unconscious motivations and mental processes to change problematic feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. They delve deep into a person’s past to uncover hidden traumas or experiences that may be affecting their current behavior.

Cognitive Therapy

Developed by Dr. Aaron Beck in the 1960s, cognitive therapy is centered around the understanding that our perceptions of ourselves and the world around us significantly impact our behavior. By examining these perceptions, we can begin to understand how they lead to certain behaviors and work towards altering them.

Computerized CBT (ICBT)

ICBT, or Internet-based cognitive-behavioral therapy, uses the same principles as traditional CBT but is delivered via apps or computers. This approach offers clients the flexibility to engage in therapy at their convenience and has been shown to be equally effective as face-to-face CBT.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a comprehensive, evidence-based treatment program that we specialize in at DBT of South Jersey. It includes individual therapy sessions, group skills training sessions, therapist consultation team meetings, and phone support between sessions. DBT helps clients build stress coping mechanisms, improve emotional regulation, and enhance interpersonal skills.


Though not as commonly used as other types of behavioral counseling, hypnotherapy can be a valuable tool for some clients. It uses hypnosis to help individuals reach a state of deep relaxation, where they may be more open to suggestions and able to make changes in their behavior.

Art Therapy

Art therapy allows clients to express their thoughts and feelings through creative outlets like drawing, painting, or sculpting. It can be particularly beneficial for those who find it difficult to articulate their emotions verbally.

Each of these therapies offers a unique approach to behavioral counseling, and the best one for you or your loved one will depend on individual needs, preferences, and circumstances. At DBT of South Jersey, we’re committed to finding the most effective therapy approach to help our clients navigate their challenges and live more fulfilling lives.

Preparing for Behavioral Counseling

Embarking on the journey of behavioral counseling is an empowering step towards enhancing your mental health and general well-being. However, it involves some key considerations and preparations to ensure it’s a beneficial and transformative experience.

Finding the Right Therapist

Choosing a suitable therapist is a crucial first step in your therapy journey. The right professional should make you feel comfortable, understood, and supported. Therapists specializing in behavioral counseling can come from various fields, including social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, or counselors.

At DBT of South Jersey, we have a dedicated team of mental health professionals who are deeply experienced in providing behavioral therapy. Our therapists are adept at creating a safe and nurturing environment that encourages open communication and personal growth.

When looking for a therapist, you can ask for recommendations from your primary care physician or use online resources such as the Healthline FindCare tool. It’s important to ensure your chosen therapist has the necessary credentials and expertise to address your specific needs or conditions.

Understanding the Costs and Reviewing Concerns

Before starting therapy, understand the costs involved and how they align with your budget. Most insurance plans cover therapy for mental health conditions, and some therapists, like our team at DBT of South Jersey, offer sliding-scale payment options for individuals from low-income households.

It’s also important to address any potential concerns or fear you might have. Therapy is a space for growth and healing, but it can also bring up feelings of vulnerability. Any fears or concerns you have are valid and should be openly discussed with your therapist.

The Structure and Duration of Therapy Sessions

The structure and duration of therapy sessions can vary depending on the type of therapy and the individual’s needs. Typically, sessions last around 50 minutes to an hour. During these sessions, the therapist will ask detailed questions to accurately assess your concerns and formulate a specific treatment plan tailored to your situation.

At DBT of South Jersey, we’re dedicated to providing personalized therapy experiences that respect our clients’ time and personal circumstances. We work hard to create a structured and supportive environment that promotes steady progress towards therapeutic goals.

In conclusion, preparing for behavioral counseling involves finding the right therapist, understanding the costs involved, and familiarizing yourself with the structure and duration of therapy sessions. These steps can help ensure your therapy journey is as beneficial and effective as possible. We are here to support you every step of the way.

Maximizing the Benefits of Behavioral Counseling

Now that you’re ready to embark on your behavioral counseling journey, it’s crucial to understand how you can maximize the benefits of this therapeutic approach. Your active involvement is key to a successful therapy outcome. Here are some strategies you can employ to ensure you get the most out of your sessions.

Approaching Therapy as a Partnership

The first step to achieving success in behavioral counseling is recognizing that therapy is a partnership. Here at DBT of South Jersey, we believe in working collaboratively with our clients. Your active participation in decision-making, setting goals, and assessing progress over time is crucial. It’s important that you and your therapist agree on the major issues and the strategies to tackle them.

Being Open and Honest in Therapy Sessions

The efficacy of behavioral counseling largely depends on your willingness to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Embracing honesty in your sessions opens up avenues for new insights and ways of doing things. If you find it challenging to discuss certain topics due to painful emotions, embarrassment, or fear of your therapist’s reaction, communicate these reservations to your therapist.

Sticking to the Treatment Plan

Consistency is key in behavioral counseling. It can be tempting to skip sessions when you’re feeling down or unmotivated, but doing so can disrupt your progress. We encourage our clients to attend all sessions and give thoughtful consideration to what they wish to discuss in each session. It’s normal to feel worse during the initial part of therapy as you begin to confront past and current conflicts. Improvement typically comes after several sessions.

Doing Homework Between Sessions

Therapy doesn’t end when your session does. At DBT of South Jersey, we often ask our clients to engage in activities outside of the regular therapy sessions, such as reading, keeping a journal, or practicing new skills. These homework assignments are designed to help you apply what you’ve learned in the therapy sessions to your daily life. Following through with these tasks can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your behavioral counseling journey.

In conclusion, maximizing the benefits of behavioral counseling requires your active participation, openness, consistency, and commitment to homework assignments. However, if you feel that you’re not benefiting from therapy after several sessions, don’t hesitate to discuss it with your therapist. We are open to making changes or trying a different approach to ensure your therapy journey is beneficial and successful.

Conclusion: The Power of Behavioral Counseling in Promoting Well-being

Behavioral counseling offers a wealth of opportunities for individuals seeking to understand themselves better, learn coping mechanisms for life’s challenges, and ultimately, improve their mental health and overall well-being. It is a testament to our commitment at DBT of South Jersey to offer these services and work closely with our clients to ensure they receive the care and support they need.

The diverse range of behavioral counseling techniques available, from exposure therapy to art therapy and even hypnotherapy, serves to cater to the unique needs of each individual. These methods have been proven effective in treating a variety of conditions, including trauma, anxiety, depression, addiction, self-esteem issues, eating disorders, and other life stressors.

Furthermore, our highly trained professionals, such as Lisa Besler, our Clinical Director, embody our ethos of providing a nonjudgmental environment where clients can explore current patterns of behaviors, understand how they developed, and make meaningful changes.

Moreover, our holistic approach goes beyond traditional counseling. We understand the power of the body-mind connection and offer services like yoga, a moving mindfulness practice, which can be a wonderful first step for those experiencing difficulty with developing a meditation practice.

In conclusion, behavioral counseling is a powerful tool in promoting well-being. However, it’s important to remember that change takes time and patience. As Maya Angelou wisely said, “You did then what you knew how to do, and when you knew better you did better.”. We are here to help you know better and do better.

To learn more about our services and how we can help, visit our DBT of South Jersey website. You can also explore our various therapy options in greater detail through our Couples and Family Therapy page or learn about the stages of DBT treatment on our dedicated Stages of DBT Treatment page.


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