Behavioural therapy which was first developed in the 1950s has gone through considerable change over the years, as new scientific findings have become an integral part of this discipline. Through integration of cognition (thoughts), modern behavioural therapy especially in the Anglo-American region, is also referred to as cognitive behavioural therapy. In Austria, the term “Verhaltenstherapie” (behavioural therapy) is used synonymously with cognitive behavioural therapy.
Behavioural therapy is characterised by an open and flexible basic approach whereby the individual needs of the client are treated as top priority. Both cognitions and emotions are drawn upon to enable dealing with existing problems in different ways. The focus of behavioural therapy is on recognising and changing behaviour as well as the related thoughts and emotions because all of these play a role in ensuring that problems continue to persist.