Behavior therapy focuses on changing human behaviors through behavioral modification techniques. A behavioral therapist helps people change their bad habits and thought patterns to positive behaviors and thoughts.

Psychoanalysis, on the other hand, focuses on the individual’s repressed emotions in the past. A psychoanalyst help patients understand the unconscious mind in order to heal themselves from psychological symptoms.

This blog post will explore how these two approaches differ from one another.

What is Behavioral Therapy?

The fundamental concept of behavior therapy is that people’s behaviors are largely formed by learned experiences. Behavior therapy attempts to address the behavioral issues with an action-oriented approach such as positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and punishment.

Behavioral Therapy can be traced back to Ivan Pavlov’s work in classical conditioning. Pavlov observed that his dogs began to drool in the presence of the technician who fed them regularly. If he used a buzzer or metronome before the food was given, the dog would associate the sound with the food and begin to salivate as soon as he heard the sound stimulus.

Later, B.F. Skinner developed the theory of operant conditioning which means that how often someone does something depends on what happens after the event. People are more likely to repeat an action if the consequences are positive; they are less likely to do so if the consequences are negative. He believed that free will is an illusion and that people act based on the consequences of previous actions.

In the United States, John B. Watson popularized behaviorism. He thought that all behavior could be traced to learning experiences. Watson used a combination of a rat and loud noise to frighten a 9-month-old Albert in a famous experiment. Albert was subsequently afraid of rats and other things that resembled rats.

talking with a therapist

Different Types of Behavior Therapies

Behavior therapies consist of various types of mental health treatments.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you recognize troubling circumstances or conditions in your life. These might include a medical condition, a divorce, sadness, rage, or indications of a mental health problem.

You can discover harmful or inaccurate thinking once you become aware of your unhealthy thoughts, emotions, and beliefs about your difficulties. Then the therapist can assist you in changing the incorrect ideas and negative thoughts.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) aims to teach clients how to deal with distressing feelings and interpersonal conflicts by teaching them how to utilize their various skills. It employs mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional control, and interpersonal effectiveness techniques.

CBT focuses on assisting individuals to respond proactively. This approach teaches people the skills to handle issues that become too difficult.

Flooding Therapy

Flooding therapy exposes the client to something they are afraid of in a large dose. After they discover that it is not harmful, the fear will dissipate. It may be utilized to treat phobias. Clients will be taught how to relax during exposure in a controlled and secure environment.

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Aversion Therapy

Aversion therapy is a type of behavioral therapy in which bad behavior is linked to an unpleasant stimulus. Some medicines, for example, can make people feel sick when they consume alcohol or take drugs. This helps to curb desires and disrupt problematic behavior.

It’s a bit of a controversial topic. Aversion therapy employs a variety of unpleasant stimuli, such as electrical shock, physical force, an unpleasant odor or taste, bad imagery or visualization, and guilt.

Systematic Desensitization

Systematic desensitization is also known as gradual exposure therapy. The therapist would expose a client to a feared object or event gradually while teaching him to relax his muscles, breathe deeply, or meditate. Little by little, this allows the client to link dreaded objects and situations with a sense of security and calm.

What is Psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that analyzes the unconscious thoughts and feelings of a person in order to understand their behavior. It aims to uncover and resolve psychological issues

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud developed his model of the human mind, which divides the intellect into three layers: conscious, preconscious (or subconscious), and unconscious. He later proposed three components of the mind: The Id, Ego, and Superego.

The id is a primitive force that focuses only on instinctive needs and desires. The ego serves as both a channel for and a check on the id, attempting to satisfy its demands in a socially acceptable manner. Morality and higher principles reside in the superego.

Later founders of psychoanalysis, such as Alfred Adler and his collaborator Carl Jung, built on Freud’s concepts.

The following are some of the most significant aspects of psychoanalysis:

  • Development is largely determined by incidents in early childhood that go unnoticed, rather than by inherent characteristics alone.
  • The unconscious mind, with its powerful instinctual urges, shapes nearly all human behavior and thought.
  • Resistance to bringing such impulses into consciousness may be identified in the form of defensive mechanisms, particularly repression.
  • Conflicts between conscious and unconscious material can lead to mental problems including neurosis, neurotic traits, anxiety, and sadness.
  • Unconscious materials can be found in dreams and unintentional behaviors such as mannerisms and slips of the tongue.
  • It is possible to free oneself from the consequences of the unconscious by bringing this material into conscious awareness through therapeutic intervention.
  • The transference is the “centerpiece of the psychoanalytic method,” in which patients re-experience their infantile quarrels by projecting feelings of love, dependence, and rage onto the analyst.
bad dream

Different Types of Psychoanalysis

There are several different types of psychoanalysis.

Free Association

The patient is asked to respond after each word of the analyst’s statement. This aids patients in recalling information that might be too difficult to express. Freud believed that these recollections could assist patients in alleviating their symptoms.

Dream Interpretation

Dreams, according to Sigmund Freud, are a method of determining what someone is thinking. He utilized this technique of dream interpretation with his patients in order to discover how they felt about their dreams. He believed that many people’s dreams contained hidden meanings that they would not openly express.

Transference Analysis

Transference refers to the act of transferring the feelings about key figures in the past to someone else in the present, such as a therapist. Transference analysis is thought to offer insight into relationship habits by assisting patients to better comprehend their earliest connections in psychoanalysis.

Inkblot Tests

Inkblot tests help uncover a patient’s unconscious feelings or thoughts. Because the subject projects contents of their mind onto a neutral picture, this process is referred to as projective testing.

The psychologist interprets results by comparing the test takers’ personality characteristics and psychiatric conditions to those of many others.

a man is feeling sad

Main Differences Between Behavior Therapy and Psychoanalysis

The following are some of the key distinctions between behavior therapy and psychoanalysis.

Therapy Time Frame

Behavior therapy is a shorter, more focused treatment, while psychoanalysis is a longer, more in-depth treatment.

Behavior therapies are considerably quicker than psychoanalysis. People go to their psychologists for psychoanalysis twice a week on average, but it’s just once a week with behavior treatment.

It might take many years for psychoanalysis. While behavioral therapy courses are generally much shorter, some last only five sessions.

Belief System

Behavior Therapy follows the belief that all behaviors can be learned and altered. Treatment is frequently focused on present situations rather than addressing the past.

Psychoanalysis believes that a person’s behavior is shaped by unconscious factors. It also emphasizes the importance of childhood memories and believes that they have a big impact on current life. The aim of psychoanalytic therapy is to assist individuals in overcoming the effects of the unconscious by making this material conscious through therapeutic intervention.

love natures


Behavior therapy is a different form of treatment than psychoanalysis. Behavior therapy focuses on present situations while psychoanalysis dives back into the past to find solutions and gain insight into the unconscious content of the mind.

It’s important to note that both forms are effective in their own ways, but it depends on what your needs are when deciding which one is best for you.