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Behavioral Activation: A Strategy to Enhance Treatment Response


Journal of Psychiatric Practice®: July 2014 - Volume 20 - Issue 4 - p 269–275
doi: 10.1097/01.pra.0000452563.05911.c9

Behavioral activation is an empirically validated treatment for depression pioneered in 1973 by Ferster, based on B.F. Skinner’s behavioral principles. After publication of Beck’s work on cognitive therapy, the boundaries of behavioral and cognitive therapies were blurred and the two now overlap substantially. Behavioral activation is also used as a stand-alone treatment and can also be effective in conjunction with antidepressant medication. Case conceptualization in behavioral activation entails an assessment of the behaviors that the patient has stopped that produce pleasure or are of importance, as well as behaviors essential to self-care. Activity monitoring, which provides treatment targets and leads to the case conceptualization in behavioral activation, consists of using charts, forms, or other prompts to track the relationship between activities and other variables (e.g., mood, enjoyment). That technique is also used to target rumination, procrastination, and avoidance and may also be helpful for patients with psychosis. (Journal of Psychiatric Practice 2014;20:269–275)

SUDAK, MAJEED, and YOUNGMAN: Department of Psychiatry, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Please send correspondence to: Donna M. Sudak, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.