Behavioral activation (BA) is a part of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that uses behaviors to influence a person’s emotional state.
BA treatment is about learning to cope with depressive symptoms and negativity. The root of the treatment is to encourage patients to engage in activities that pull them from a level of depression. This also means getting them to leave the activities that cause depression behind.
In this article, we explain what behavioral activation therapy is, how it works, and a few examples of how this treatment is used in real-life situations.
How Behavioral Activation Therapy Is Used to Help Treat Depression
When someone is depressed, they lose interest and pleasure in hobbies and activities they once enjoyed. Symptoms of depression often result in poor self-esteem and social connections.
Behavioral activation treatment works as an intervention to find a balance between behaviors and feelings. BA therapy focuses on helping patients find and plan more activities they enjoy while developing social skills. It’s a highly customized and personalized therapy that targets behaviors that aid in feelings of depression.
Examples of Behavioral Activation Therapy
When trying to find activities and hobbies that make people feel happy, there are a lot of personal factors to take into consideration. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to BA therapy. However, here are a few examples of how behavioral activation therapy is used.
Example 1: When you’ve been through traumatic experiences and have painful emotions, it’s often hard to build relationships with others. Even participating in social activities is stressful behavior. This causes you to isolate yourself and feel lonely. One way BA therapy works to help improve relationships and socialization is by encouraging activities that ultimately provide patients with a sense of fun and connection. For example, spending quality time with family or going to dinner with a friend.
Example 2: BA therapy is primarily focused on patients with depression. When depressed, you often lose your sense of purpose and meaning. For example, a person who typically loves playing sports may lose hope and motivation when having a depressive episode. Sometimes this leads to giving up sports entirely, which only reinforces depriving yourself of activities that once made you happy. To help you stay physically active and improve your mood, BA therapy includes encouraging you to do small amounts of that sport each day.
Example 3: Do you smoke or drink when stressed? Behavioral activation therapy helps replace this unpleasant behavior with a more beneficial one – one that does not cause more harm than good. Often, BA therapy works to replace a bad habit with a stress-relieving one to help create positive feelings. Engaging in positive activities helps you avoid smoking and alcohol when stressed.
Does Behavioral Activation Therapy Work?
Behavioral activation includes recognizing depression and its cycles, building motivation through pleasurable activities, purposefully scheduling engaging activities, and monitoring progress and goals.
It’s important to understand that change does not and will not happen overnight. However, BA therapy is shown to help patients with depression as long as the patients are willing and mindful of the help they need.At South County Psychiatry, we understand the many different forms of psychotherapies, including behavioral activation. To set up an appointment for a consultation with a qualified therapist, contact us today and request an appointment.