How Behavior Therapy Differs from Psychoanalysis in Advanced Psychiatric Services

How Behavior Therapy Differs from Psychoanalysis in Advanced Psychiatric Services

Mental health is a growing concern around the world and it can be hard to decide what approach suits your condition best. There are two therapeutic approaches available to treat mental health concerns: behavior therapy and psychoanalysis. Each of them follows a specific methodology and has its pros and cons. 

Before we begin a deeper understanding you might be wondering how is behavior therapy different than psychoanalysis? The answer is that behavior therapy follows a more action-oriented approach to address mental health issues while psychoanalysis concerns and addresses the unconscious mind.  

How is Behavior Therapy Different from Psychoanalysis?

Both behavior therapy and psychoanalysis are the core of advanced psychiatric services that aim to help and cope with mental health issues and reduce psychological symptoms, enhancing the patient’s overall quality of life. Though these approaches are used to treat one cause there are significant differences that make them depend on the need and circumstance of a patient. Some of the major differences between the two forms of therapy are:

Belief System

The foundation of the two approaches is very different. Behavior therapy is an approach that helps reinforce positive behavior in the patient and eliminate the negative ones while psychoanalysis addresses the emotions that were not acknowledged at the right time and still exist in the patient’s subconscious mind causing mental health issues.

Time Frame

When we look at the durations of each approach they’re also different. Behavior therapies are shorter in duration, completing therapy in approximately five sessions while psychoanalysis is intensive and may last for several years. In the end it all narrows down to how effectively the patient responds to therapy.


A psychoanalyst might have a very different approach to treatment than a behaviorist. An analyst may talk less but let the patient feel what emotions and thoughts are disturbing them while a behaviorist has a measurable and quantified approach to meet specific goals in each session.

Difference in the Foundations of Behavior Therapy vs Psychoanalysis

Difference in the Foundations of Behavior Therapy vs Psychoanalysis

Behavior therapy relates to the principles of behaviorism that emerged in the 20th century focusing on observable behaviors and the ways in which they are learnt and reinforced. Behavior therapy uses people’s actions to solve a variety of problems like navigating disturbing feelings or emotions and treating substance addiction, smoking, insomnia and eating disorders. It is also found effective in treating severe mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, OCD, bipolar disorders and personality disorders. 

Behavior therapy is the understanding of the flaws in how people interact with each other and the environment developing negatively rewarding behaviors which later on becomes a habit. These can be unlearned through many techniques like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), exposure therapy and reinforcement strategies. 

On the other hand, psychoanalysis explores the unconscious mind and is based on the research of Sigmund Freud that explores the unavailability of certain thoughts, feelings, repressed memories and unconscious desires that need to be brought to consciousness. It suggests that human behavior is greatly influenced by unconscious conflicts, which can often be born out of early childhood incidents. With the aim to facilitate awareness and resolution, the main goal of psychoanalysis is to bring these unconscious emotions and thoughts to consciousness. For psychoanalysis advanced psychiatric services include encouraging patients to verbalize thoughts without censorship, revealing unconscious material, interpreting dreams to uncover hidden desires and conflicts or examining the patient’s projections of feelings about significant figures onto the therapist.

Practical Applications in Advanced Psychiatric Services

The choice between behavior therapy and psychoanalysis depends on the condition and needs of the patient according to modern psychiatric services. 

Behavior therapy is a good fit for integration into advanced psychiatric treatments because of its structured approach and emphasis on measurable objectives and outcomes. Consistency as well as delivery of techniques using multiple formats, such as individual sessions, group therapy, and even internet platforms, can be implemented with convenience. Behavior therapy is found effective in treating:

  • Techniques like exposure therapy and CBT help individuals manage symptoms and reduce avoidance behaviors and anxiety disorders.
  • CBT is widely used to challenge and alter negative thought patterns associated with depression.
  • Systematic desensitization and exposure therapy are particularly effective in treating phobias.

Traditional psychoanalysis is time-consuming and demands an extensive amount of the patient, but it has influenced many more accessible and adaptable psychodynamic therapies that are frequently included in comprehensive mental health treatment plans. Psychoanalysis has influenced many modern therapeutic approaches and is particularly beneficial for: 

  • Long-term psychoanalytic therapy can help uncover deep-seated issues contributing to personality disorders.
  • It provides a framework for understanding and resolving deep-rooted trauma.
  • For individuals with longstanding, complex psychological problems, psychoanalysis offers a thorough and in-depth exploration of the psyche.

The Future of Mental Health Treatment

The Future of Mental Health Treatment

Advanced psychiatric services will continue to evolve with behavior therapy and psychoanalysis as their core approaches. Their unified integration can change the way we treat mental health issues and give a boost to emerging trends like:

  • Integrative approaches between the two to offer more personalized and effective treatment plans. 
  • Since the future is all about digitalization, we might see more digital tools integrated in treatment approaches especially with behavior therapy.
  • Psychoanalysis can help curate better holistic care models that are not just limited to the symptoms but address underlying psychological issues as well.


Behavior therapy and psychoanalysis are two very different yet similar approaches within the spectrum of psychiatric differences. By understanding how behavior therapy is different than psychoanalysis, mental health professionals can create better personalized treatment plans to meet the diverse needs of patients making an advanced way for effective and compassionate care.


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