The three waves of behavior therapy
Since the 1950s, behavioral therapy has played a central role in psychotherapy and is considered the best evaluated and scientifically validated form of therapy. After an initial focus on the treatment of depression, today it is also an important tool for the psychotherapeutic treatment of various disorders. With regard to the causes of mental disorders, it is based on fundamental principles of learning theory, which are intended to be effective on the basis of the interaction of social and biological factors, overt behavior, and transmitted cognitive processes. Schemas and dysfunctional cognitions, such as misinterpretations, perceptual distortions, and negative evaluations, contribute to etiology according to the theory. In behavior therapy, the patient's symptomatology is supposed to improve by changing dysfunctional cognitions, metacognitions, and schemas and replacing them with new, functional behaviors. Over the past decades, cognitive behavioral therapy has undergone numerous changes and developments. When considering these developments, we now distinguish three waves or phases in chronological order. The history is divided into an initial behavioral phase, a subsequent cognitive-behavioral phase, and finally the so-called "third wave" of behavior therapy. The following article provides an overview of how the form of therapy has changed over time.