What is Behaviour Therapy?

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Behaviour is everything we do. We do what we have learned. Behaviour therapy is used to help people deal with behavioural problems or mental health conditions. Examples include: addictions, anxiety, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, ADHD, autism and other related developmental disabilities. 

Behaviour therapists use the law of behaviour. They know that behaviour is learned and so, can be unlearned with a little help. Behaviour therapy is the techniques used inside applied behaviour analysis, which is part of associative learning in the field of psychology. It is a little different to other forms of therapy in that it is very action based. Rather than spend many hours focusing on past issues, behaviour therapists will focus on current behaviours and problems, and on ways they can help individuals to change any unwanted behaviours. 

Behaviour therapy for children with autism and ADHD

Behaviour therapy is recommended by NHS as it has shown to have great success for helping children develop communication, social skills, and remove undesired or challenging behaviours. 

Behaviour science

The science of behaviour overarches all behaviour therapies. Over hundred years of research has been compiled and many different behaviour therapies use this research. Some form of behavioural therapies now provide support to people in their daily life. However, as we all know, every child is different and not all therapies will be suitable for everyone. Here is a quick overview of behaviour therapies.

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)

Utilising and applying the science of behaviour is wonderful for children with autism, down syndrome, ADHD, and other related disabilities. It can address every behaviour relevant to the child (both excesses and deficits). Behaviour analysts will examine the causes and consequences of certain behaviours and develop interventions which will help to control these. ABA, just like other applied sciences has come a long way and is highly recommended by NHS Scotland. You can study ABA across few different universities in the UK.

ABA involves breaking skills down into manageable parts and helping a child to learn them through repetition, reinforcement and encouragement. It can be used to teach play, communication, and social living skills, as well as reducing problematic behaviours. 

Positive Behaviour Support (PBS)

PBS is a multitiered therapy used mostly in organisations or institutions. It focuses on the prevention of challenging behaviour through feedback, skills training, and altering or reducing triggers or reinforcements. PBS, which is highly value based, helps understand the reason for a challenging behaviour (which is often the communication of a frustration or a need) so they can help improve the life of the service user and reduce the likelihood of the behaviour presenting again. 

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a talking therapy with focus on how an individual think about a problem and acts upon it. Therapist supports a person to act, think and feel about problem in a more positive way. 

Depending on the age, abilities, and circumstances of children we choose the best behaviour therapy to suit their needs. 

Behavioural therapy with Catesbi

We work mostly with children under the age of 10 years old. We teach them new skills through play. This a great way to help children with their anxieties, communication, and difficulties learning. The way a child plays or interacts with people and toys can give the behavioural therapist an insight into their skills. Older children or children with higher cognitive skills might benefit more from talking therapies or ACT – acceptance and commitment therapy to help them move forward. 

We believe that there is no such thing as a naughty child, just challenging behaviour.We understand that this challenging behaviour is likely the result of the child’s inability to express their frustrations and feelings. We want to get to the root of these behaviours, understand why they are happening, and what we can do to support the child and their parents/guardians to remove them. 

When you choose to work with us, we will guide you through a process from assessment, analysis to implementation and support.

Support for parents 

Behaviour and skills assessment 

We will start our support by conducting a behaviour assessment to help us assess the reasons for the child’s behaviour. The skill assessment will help us to understand your child’s strong points. This assessment will guide our response strategy and tailor it to the needs and strengths of your child.

Positive Behaviour Intervention Plan (BPIB)

We will build a step by step plan on how to prevent a behaviour that is challenging, based on the information gained from the assessment. This will include which skills to teach in order to help your child communicate their needs, and how to do so. 

Support for organisations 

We also provide introductory training in Early Positive Behaviour Support for nursery and primary school staff, as well as workshops delivered in partnership with Board Certified Behavioural Analysts. 

Get in touch 

If you have any further questions about behavioural therapy, or you want to know more about getting support for your organisation or child, please do not hesitate to get in touch


With thanks to Betty for edits, questions and suggestions 🙂

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