Eric Heinbach of Philadelphia is a behavioral therapist who works with children and adolescents in home, school, and community settings. In the following article, Eric Heinbach discusses the importance of behavioral therapy, why this modality is so effective, and the issues this therapy can help treat.
It’s never easy being a teenager.
It’s a time of major changes and upheavals in both physical and emotional development. Social changes and challenges abound. The access to alcohol and drugs increases. Sexual relationships may also start to factor into day-to-day life. Life, overall, becomes more stressful.
Eric Heinbach says that it’s no wonder then that mental health struggles and other behavioral issues may arise during adolescence. An estimated 1 in 4 teens in America has a mental health disorder.
Untreated behavioral issues and disorders have consequences. Anxiety disorders, depression, and eating disorders are among the common mental health conditions impacting U.S. teens.
Many are caused by behavioral struggles fueled by changing hormones, peer pressure, or emotional and physical abuse. Eric Heinbach of Philadelphia says that adolescent lives are at stake. The rate of teenage suicide grew by 70% between 2006 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There is always hope. Behavior therapy is a popular and effective approach to getting adolescents back on the right track in life.
What is Behavior Therapy
Eric Heinbach of Philadelphia reports that negative thoughts are normal, but consistent harmful patterns of thinking and resulting actions are not.
Behavior therapy targets such thoughts and distressing actions by taking a close look at thought patterns, pinpointing exactly why they are unhealthy, and making actionable steps to ensure that they do not lead to distress.
This includes refining social skills and healthy forms of communication both personally and professionally. Behavior therapy can take deep dives into independence and punctuality, self-image, and emotional distress triggers explains Eric Heinbach.
The goal is not just to eliminate unhealthy behavior, but to create lasting beneficial behaviors and instill positive self-worth.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques have long been integrated into treatment plans for adolescents. It’s not a cure-all; no individual treatment approach is. But CBT can be life-changing for millions of teens.
Part of CBT’s power is the wide range of negative behavioral signs and mental health issue symptoms it can address. It goes beyond moody behavior and attitudes.
Eric Heinbach explains that CBT can address feelings of hopelessness, lack of self-confidence, an increase in anger, excessive worry, and withdrawal from friends and family.
Benefits of CBT
Behavioral therapy tackles a large range of emotional and mental disorders that have been shown to potentially lead to long-term well-being. The CDC describes therapy as a key approach to improving adolescents’ mental health.
CBT, which emerged in the 1960s, may also improve common conditions revealed in childhood, including ADHD, PTSD, and anxiety. The CDC says CBT and other forms of behavior therapy are solid approaches to reducing symptoms of behavior disorders.
There appear to be benefits for different age groups. Eric Heinbach explains that young children who have assorted issues with defiance may respond well to CBT’s self-reflection approaches and options for behavior strategies that are both positive and practical.
Children battling anxiety may find realistic coping skills with CBT, which has been found to reduce the frequency of panic attacks. Those with attention issues can learn techniques that will help control not just actions but reactions.
A central hallmark of CBT and other types of talk therapy is direct and honest discussions about emotions and behavior. CBT helps teens recognize the exact feelings leading to certain behaviors and offers the power to shift thoughts over to positive territory.
How CBT Works
A big part of what makes CBT important is how it can be tailored to fit any type of emotional struggle.
It all depends on the individual circumstance. Interventional approaches may include thought reframing, or what’s formally known as cognitive reconstruction.
With this approach, Eric Heinbach explains that therapists help adolescents identify exact thought patterns that are negative and work with them to “reframe” them to be positive. Through cognitive journaling, children and teens are urged to face issues head-on by writing out negative thoughts, setting goals, and keeping track of progress.
Patients may record certain triggers that lead to certain behaviors, log the corresponding intensity of moods and emotions for each, and note the physical consequences of certain thoughts and the actions that could either hurt or help the situation.
It’s this type of engagement that helps make CBT popular with adolescents hindered by behavioral challenges.
Over time, Eric Heinbach of Philadelphia explains that CBT leads to consistent patterns of healthy resolution of stress, the development of skillful interactions and social situation management, and the ability to talk oneself out of certain fears and anxiety.