How is Behavior Therapy Different from psychoanalysis?

Behaviour therapy and psychoanalysis are both well-established in the field of mental health therapies. The human mind and its intricacies are approached differently. Understanding these variations may assist therapy seekers, mental health enthusiasts, and psychology students in choosing treatments. Here are the main differences between behaviour therapy and psychoanalysis.

Understanding Behavior Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based treatment that employs a goal-oriented, systematic procedure to change dysfunctional emotions, actions, and ideas. It is often used to treat anxiety, sadness, and phobias.

CBT holds that modifying negative thinking patterns may affect emotions and actions. Behavior therapy uses exposure, cognitive restructuring, and skill training. These techniques try to uncover and confront illogical ideas, progressively expose people to anxiety-provoking circumstances, and create coping skills. Short-term behaviour therapy is a good option for many people seeking quick results due to its structure and emphasis on present difficulties.

Key Features of Behavior Therapy

  1. Problem-Focused: Behavior therapy targets particular issues and changes damaging thoughts and actions.
  2. Short-Term: The treatment usually only lasts for a certain amount of time, between 12 and 20 rounds.
  3. Evidence-Based: According to several research, behaviour therapy works for many mental health issues.
  4. Skills-Oriented: Symptom management practices, including relaxation, cognitive restructuring, and exposure exercises, are taught.
  5. Active Participation: Client and therapist collaborate, with the client actively participating in therapy and homework.

Techniques Used in Behavior Therapy

  • Cognitive Restructuring: Finding bad thoughts and questioning them.
  • Exposure Therapy: slowly putting clients in settings they are afraid of can help them feel less anxious.
  • Behavioural Activation: Getting people to do things that make them feel better.
  • Skills Training: Teaching ways to deal with stress and solve problems.

Understanding Psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud came up with psychoanalysis, a way to look into the unconscious mind and find memories, thoughts, and feelings that have been pushed down and affect behaviour. This long-term care aims to make deep emotional and mental changes.

Key Features of Psychoanalysis

  1. Insight-Oriented: Explores unconscious tensions and how they affect behaviour.
  2. Long-Term: Treatment lasts years and involves numerous sessions every week.
  3. Explorative: Investigates prior emotions and experiences to see how they affect conduct.
  4. Free Association: Patients are encouraged to discuss their unconscious ideas and emotions openly.
  5. Therapist’s Role: Patients are encouraged to openly discuss their unconscious ideas and emotions.

Techniques Used in Psychoanalysis

  • Free Association: Getting people to say their thoughts without being censored.
  • Dream Analysis: Dream interpretation can help you find hidden issues and wants.
  • Transference: Look at the connection between the patient and doctor to learn about past interactions.
  • Defence Mechanisms: Ego barriers like avoidance, denial, and projection must be recognized and understood.

Key Differences Between Behavior Therapy and Psychoanalysis

Focus of Treatment

  • Behavior Therapy¬†focuses on changing certain ways of thinking and acting.
  • Psychoanalysis: tries to find and understand the hidden tensions that affect behaviour.

Time Frame

  • Behaviour Therapy: Usually short-term and focused on finding solutions.
  • Psychoanalysis: Long-term and experimental, they usually last for years.


  • Behaviour Therapy: Practical and skill-based, with the client taking an active role.
  • Psychoanalysis: insight-oriented and analytical, with the therapist leading the study of things that aren’t aware.

Evidence Base

  • Behaviour Therapy: There is much evidence for this, especially for healing worry, sadness, and other common mental illnesses.
  • Psychoanalysis: There is less evidence for this, but some studies show that it may help some people with deep-seated mental problems.

Therapeutic Relationship

  • Behaviour Therapy: Collaborative means the doctor and client work together to reach certain goals.
  • Psychoanalysis: More hierarchical, with the therapist reading what’s in the client’s unconscious mind.

Choosing the Right Therapy for You

Which one you choose, between behaviour therapy or psychoanalysis, relies on your wants, tastes, and goals for treatment. Here are some things to think about:

Nature of Issues

  • Behavior Therapy: Suitable for focused symptom treatment from phobias, anxiety disorders, and sadness.
  • Psychoanalysis: Ideal for probing deep-seated emotional issues, unresolved childhood conflicts, and unconscious motives.

Time Commitment

  • Behavior Therapy: Behavior therapy may be preferable for short-term, organized commitments.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis may be better if you have time and patience for a deep psychological investigation.

Personal Preferences

  • Behaviour Therapy: Behavior therapy is hands-on and organized for those who desire greater involvement, practical tactics, and quantifiable objectives.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis may help you understand yourself better if you are more introspective.

Evidence and Effectiveness

  • Behaviour Therapy: Evidence-based, especially for addressing common mental health concerns. It provides fast, efficient relief using evidence-based methods.
  • Psychoanalysis: It has less scientific backing than behaviour therapy, but it can help people with complicated and deep-rooted psychological difficulties change for good.

Accessibility and Cost

  • Behaviour Therapy: Shorter length and wider availability make it more inexpensive and accessible. Insurance usually covers it.
  • Psychoanalysis: Frequent and long sessions make therapy more costly and less accessible, and insurance may not cover it.

Which Approach is Right for You?

The choice between behaviour therapy and psychoanalysis relies on requirements and preferences. Behaviour therapy may be useful for short-term, controlled problem-solving. Psychoanalysis may be better for deeper emotional disorders and a longer, more rigorous approach.

Considerations When Choosing a Therapy

  • Nature of Issues: Behavior therapy works successfully for anxiety and behavioural concerns. Psychoanalysis may help with long-standing difficulties.
  • Time Commitment: Think about how much time you can spend on treatment.
  • Personal Preferences: Others may benefit from exploring their unconscious mind, while others prefer an organized, goal-oriented approach.


Although based on different theoretical frameworks, behaviour therapy and psychoanalysis have advantages. Knowing the differences between behaviour therapy and psychoanalysis will help you choose the best method for your needs and psychological goals. Always remember that finding a solution that improves you mentally is the most important thing.

Check out our website and join our group of people interested in mental health to learn more about therapy and get more information.

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