Mental Health

Behavioral Health & Behavioral Therapy

behavioral health Posted On
Posted By Alex Perez - Mental Health Writer, B.A.

Behavioral health is the study of someone’s behavior in relation and how it affects their lifestyle. Some use the term “behavioral health” and “mental health” interchangeably. For example, some hospitals may have a behavioral health department in which patients see counselors, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals.

Others, however, argue that mental health is a more specific type of behavioral health in that it emphasizes thought processes, emotions, neuroscience, and psychology of the mind. It can even include the chemical reactions of the brain and personal diagnoses. Examples of mental health are depression, anxiety, phobias, and suicide ideation.

So what is the difference between mental health and behavioral health?

The truth is, mental health and behavioral health go hand in hand. Usually, when someone struggles with a mental health diagnosis, they often engage in unfavorable behaviors. This can include isolation, anger outbursts, crying fits, uncontrollable habits, and etc. Mental and behavioral health are often intertwined when addressing addiction. Addiction can include substance abuse, sex addiction, gambling, shopping addiction and etc.

Your patterns of thinking or worldview often has direct influence on your actions, behavior, and habit. Your emotions also have a direct impact on your behavior. Therefore, to successfully manage your mental health, a patient’s behavior and habits need to be addressed.

Types of Behavioral health services

behavioral health services

Behavioral health services not only includes mental health services, but it can also include:

  • Substance abuse counseling,
  • marriage counseling,
  • Family counseling,
  • Neuropsychology
  • Pediatric services,
  • Applied behavioral therapy,
  • Rehabilitation counseling.

Behavioral Therapies

behavioral therapy

Some behavioral health interventions utilize behavioral therapies as a means to address and reconstruct negative behaviors. Two common ones are Applied Behavioral Therapy (ABT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Applied Behavioral Therapy

Applied Behavioral Therapy addresses behavioral health by observing your antecedent, your behavior, and the consequences of your behavior. An antecedent can be understood as a type of trigger that precedes a particular behavior. You then receive a negative or positive consequence to your behavior that can either reinforce or discourage your behavior.

This type of behavioral health intervention is commonly used for younger children and is sometimes used in schools.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a behavioral health intervention often used for depression and anxiety. This type of therapy recognizes the marriage between mental health and behavior.

This therapy states your behaviors are often impacted by your emotions and your emotions and influenced by your thoughts. Therefore, to change behavior, you must change your patterns of thinking.

CBT categorizes a variety of negative thoughts or distortions and helps you reframe irrational thoughts with alternatives. The idea is that changing the way you think will help change your behavior.

For example, when you see someone not returning your smile, you may think this person hates you or you may have done something wrong. This causes you to feel sad and concerned. Your behavior may be avoiding the person or angrily confronting the person. A CBT approach may encourage you to think an alternative thought. For example, this person did not smile at you because they did not see you or they are having a bad day. Then you will not feel as sad and perhaps your behavior would be checking in on the person later on that day.


Sometimes physical conditions affect our behavior. This can include head injuries or medical conditions such genetic conditions or Alzheimers. Neuropsychologists work with the patients and families to psychoeducate and discover ways to manage behavioral health in relation to their medical or physical condition.

Related: Is Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy Right for You?

Related: How to Find a Good Psychologist Online?

Alvernia University: What is the Difference between Behavioral Health and Mental Health?

InSync: What is Behavioral Health?

Healthline: Behavioral Therapy: Definition, Types and Effectiveness

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