What’s the Difference Between Cognitive, Behavioral, and Family Therapy

Within psychology, psychiatry, and neurology, a variety of therapies have been developed to treat the different types of psychopathology that may affect clients. Cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, and family therapy are just a few examples of different types of therapies being used in modern psychotherapies. In this article, we will take a look at what each one entails

Cognitive Therapy
The core concept behind cognitive therapy is learning to identify automatic patterns in thinking, emotional responding, and behaving so they can be adjusted to more appropriate “realistic” thoughts and behaviors.

A therapist will work with their client by looking at the conditions under which certain thoughts arise; this allows individuals to learn how to think more positively in order to solve life’s difficulties rather than avoid them. With the guidance of a CBT therapist, people are able to monitor their experiences and thought processes, identify harmful or inaccurate beliefs underlying these experiences and ultimately do away with these unhelpful thoughts. Individuals who undergo CBT therapy from a therapist will also learn about the connection between their moods and behaviors, how our thoughts directly affect our feelings and how to create healthier relationships in order to live more comfortably in society.

Behavior Therapy
Behavioral Therapy focuses on how an individual behaves, their personal life as well as their social life. It is not solely focused on a singular area of a person’s life but instead works to improve the entirety of a person’s life.

Behavioral therapy targets the behaviors that are the most troubling to the individual, which may not only affect the quality of life but also make it difficult for individuals to overcome other problems in their lives. Behavior therapists believe that changes should be made in one’s environment, rather than directly within the individual (as is the case in CBT therapy), in order to change the most maladaptive responses. Such a focus on altering environmental contexts also helps to create a supportive interpersonal environment that encourages positive changes in one’s behavior.

Family Therapy
The term “family” has been used to describe both the immediate family (parents, siblings) and also the larger kinship network that may include grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc. Since family problems are very important in the development of psychopathology, this therapy has been developed as an effective method for working with individuals to improve their lives by changing how they interact with their families.

Family therapists believe that changing one member’s behavior can have significant effects on other members’ thoughts, feelings, or actions. Therefore, this form of therapy is less focused on helping individual members directly and instead focuses on creating changes within systems – improving communication levels, increasing satisfaction levels amongst members, and decreasing conflict levels between members. Therefore, the primary goal of this kind of therapy is to correct any dysfunctional patterns or relationships within a family that may affect one or more family members.


In contrast, the goals of cognitive and behavioral therapies are not as specific in terms of focusing on problems within a single system. Cognitive-behavioral therapists believe that changing an individual’s thoughts and behaviors can improve one’s overall functioning within a family, and can encourage positive changes in the other family members’ behaviors as well. If you ever need to see a therapist, contact More Life Recovery Center.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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