Behaviour therapy

Some 50 years ago ‘behaviour therapy’ was first introduced as a treatment of psychological disorders. Has it been a success?


Behaviour therapy is being used to treat behavioural and emotional problems. And yes, it is rather successful. At least it is when used for the largest group of psychological misery: anxiety disorders. Behaviour therapy has a better effect on anxiety disorders than other psychological treatments. 50 years ago, the treatment was based on learning theory. It is, however, principally undesirable when professionals come together based on theories. For theories are only preliminary and before you know it, psychologists will keep carrying out obsolete treatments because they are members of a theory club. Behaviour therapists proved quite sensible however: they are organised within national associations and prefer effectivity over theory. As soon as a new technique appears effective they will start using it, learning theory or not. Just like psychologists no longer deal with the ‘souls’ of individuals, behavioural therapists no longer (or at least no longer only) deal with behaviour and learning theory. Behaviour therapy: 50 years old, but alive and kicking.