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Behavioral Work vs. Therapy: Why Don't Behaviorists Ask About the Past?

Ok, ok, maybe that was a bit harsh.... It’s not that we don’t care. We do, or at least we will, but to begin with, it doesn’t matter what led you to where you are today. What matters is what is NOT working for you in your life. Period.

Behaviorists are uniquely qualified to identify and alter any patterns or reactions that are problematic. We are not interested in spending a lot of your time, money, and energy rehashing painful events that may have left an indelible mark on your psyche. That knowledge doesn’t change what needs to be done.

Once you start making progress within the bounds of the behavioral programs, THEN we can talk about all you’ve overcome, how incredible you feel, how it is so hard to believe that it was that easy .... how you wish you had known us 10 years ago.

So to be clear, there are some differences in what you experience from behavioral work versus traditional therapy. Let’s just name a few:

Traditional Therapy

  1. Focused on the root of the issue (history)

  2. Semi Structured or Unstructured Sessions/Meetings ("what do YOU want to talk about today?)

  3. Feelings Oriented ("and how did that make you feel?")

  4. Focus on the diagnosis as a community ("You are not alone, there a lots of people JUST LIKE YOU!")

  5. Feel heavy at the end of sessions (did you cover much in 50 minutes?)

  6. 50-minute sessions (like I said....)

  7. No goal setting (refer to semi/unstructured meetings)

Behavioral Work:

  1. Focused on present and future (because this is where we currently live)

  2. Structured Sessions/Meetings (your data dictates where we begin)

  3. Action Oriented (you're creating the structure of your future IN session!)

  4. Labels/Diagnoses are irrelevant (there may be people with your diagnosis, but there is NO ONE like YOU)

  5. Feel GOOD at the end of sessions (seriously, you're gonna love this)

  6. Full 90-minute sessions (So we can make sure that you are actually getting to and through the pain point!)

  7. Measurable goal achievement in the areas of Love, Health, Wealth, and Self Image (yeah, I'll make you a GRAPH!! Has your therapist ever made you a graph of your progress?)

I have nothing against traditional therapy. It just stopped working for me. I grew tired of telling my story over and over again. I grew weary of the looks on their faces when they didn’t approve of something I had said or done. I remember once thinking to myself that if she also thought it was awful, how come she wasn't giving me any better tools?

You know, that’s the other big difference between the therapist and the behaviorist: Therapists learn theories about human behavior like Jung’s theories on dream interpretation; Piaget’s, Erikson’s and Freud’s developmental stages; Rogerian principles of the benefits of reflective listening; interviewing skills; and even about Skinner’s behavioral ideas, but they don’t learn the science.

Behaviorists learn all of the same theories, but we also learn how to observe, step-in, adjust, and modify approaches to SOLVE the challenges in our lives.

My practice consists of evidence-based intervention strategies (that means that science tested them and gave them a thumbs up!) that address:

  1. Physical symptoms related to dis-ease (what labelers call “anxiety” and “depression” and “lack of motivation”).

  2. Mental process that are crazy-making (what therapists call “perseverative thoughts” or “destructive ideations”).

  3. Strategic planning to get from point A to point Z in the least painful way possible (what behaviorists call “setting us up for success”).

Be curious. Be skeptical (that’s my favorite, actually). Be done with things that don’t work.

Be well,


If you have questions or comments feel free to contact me at

Private and Group Sessions available in person or online!

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