Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapy is an approach to treatment that helps change problem behaviors. It is also called behavioral modification or cognitive behavioral therapy. Medical professionals use this type of therapy to replace bad habits with good ones. This type of treatment is applied to many different challenges. From building self-esteem to treating addiction or Autism Spectrum Disorder, behavior therapies focus on building awareness of behaviors and emotions, and healing the patient by addressing the connection between their thoughts and emotions and the actions that follow.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps a patient see that their thoughts and emotions can influence how they behave. CBT is generally a short-term treatment that helps a patient deal with a specific problem. During treatment, patients learn how to identify and change problematic thought patterns that influence their behavior. CBT is a common treatment used to treat an array of disorders including anxiety, depression, addiction and phobias.
The main goal of CBT is to help a person recognize thought patterns that are not useful or damaging, and then replace those negative or distorted thought patterns with more positive thoughts.

Behavior Modification

Behavior modification is a treatment based on the principles of operant conditioning which replaces undesirable behaviors with more desirable ones through positive or negative reinforcement.
Behavior modification is used to treat a variety of problems in both adults and children. It has been successfully used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder, and separation anxiety disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and other conditions.
To learn more about Behavior Modification go to:

Special Education and Behavior Modification

Behavioral Therapies for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) - One treatment for people with an ASD is called applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA has become widely accepted among health care professionals and is used in many schools and treatment clinics. ABA encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative behaviors through repetitive teaching practices, in order to improve a variety of skills. The child’s progress is tracked and measured.

Different Types of ABA Therapies for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Discrete Trial Training (DTT) - Discrete Trial Training (DTT) is a method of teaching in simplified and structured steps. Instead of teaching an entire skill in one lesson, the skill is broken down and “built-up” to its entirety using discrete repetitive trials that teach each step one at a time.
Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) - EIBI is a type of ABA with age-appropriate discrete trials for preschool-aged children.
Pivotal Response Training (PRT) - Derived from applied behavioral analysis (ABA), PRT is play-based and child-initiated. Rather than target individual behaviors, PRT targets “pivotal” areas of a child's development. These include motivation, response to multiple cues, self-management and the initiation of social interactions. The philosophy is that, by targeting these critical areas, PRT will produce broad improvements across other areas of sociability, communication, and behavior.
Verbal Behavior Intervention (VBI) - VBI is a type of ABA that focuses on teaching verbal skills and motivates a child, adolescent or adult to learn language by connecting words with their purposes. The student learns that words can help obtain desired objects or other results.

Other Treatments for Developmental Delays including Autism Spectrum Disorder

Developmental, Individual-difference, Relationship-based (DIR) (also referred to as the "Floortime" or "DIRFloortime" approach) - The method called Floortime refers to time spent on the floor interacting with your child, following his or her lead, and reinforcing the aspects of play that bring joy and result in meaningful learning exchanges.
Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) - TEACCH uses visual cues to teach skills designed around individual strengths, skills, interests and needs. For example, picture cards of clothing items can help teach a child how to get dressed by breaking information down into small steps.
To learn more about ABA and therapies for Autism Spectrum Disorder go to:

Center for Autism and Related Disorders


Information & Support

For Parents and Patients

NAMI - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
A summary of cognitive behavioral therapy and it's uses.

Mayo Clinic - Cognitive behavioral therapy
Explains the structure, limits and intentions of this common type of mental health counseling.

Special Education and Behavior Modification
An online guide to behavior modification principles from a special education perspective.

Lives in Balance for Behaviorally Challenging Kids
Resources include an Assessment of Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems (ALSUP) and a description of Dr. Ross Greene's Collaborative & Proactive Solutions, author of The Explosive Child and Lost at School.

Supporting and Responding to Behavior: Evidence-Based Classroom Strategies for Teachers
This downloadable document includes an interactive map of classroom PBIS strategies, a self-assessment, examples of critical practices in elementary and secondary settings, non-examples of critical practices, descriptions of supporting evidence, links to resources, scenarios that illustrate implementation, and other guidelines for implementation;, a website developed under a grant from the US Department of Education.

Services for Patients & Families in Montana (MT)

For services not listed above, browse our Services categories or search our database.

* number of provider listings may vary by how states categorize services, whether providers are listed by organization or individual, how services are organized in the state, and other factors; Nationwide (NW) providers are generally limited to web-based services, provider locator services, and organizations that serve children from across the nation.

Authors & Reviewers

Initial publication: September 2014; last update/revision: October 2019
Current Authors and Reviewers:
Author: Tina Persels
Reviewers: Shena McAuliffe, MFA
Gina Pola-Money