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Behavioral Activation (BA)

Behavioral activation (BA) is an extremely effective treatment for depression. BA predates cognitive therapy approaches, and an influential component analysis study demonstrated outcomes for BA that were equivalent to cognitive therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) treatments (Jacobson et al., 1996). Separate teams have developed and evaluated slightly different behavioral activation treatment approaches: behavioral activation (BA: Martell, Addis, & Jacobson, 2001), and behavioral activation treatment for depression (BATD: Lejuez, Hopko, & Hopko, 2001). All versions of BA share the technique of activity scheduling, which is designed to connect depressed individuals with positive reinforcers in their environment. The BA approach attends to the identification and overcoming of avoidance, whereas the BATD version attends especially to the contexts in which behavior occurs. Read more
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Problem

Therapy tool

Language

Activity Diary

Activity diaries can be used for activity monitoring during an assessment phase of therapy, symptom monitoring during therapy, correlating activity wi ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/activity-diary/

Worksheet

Activity Diary (No Time Slots)

Activity diaries can be used for activity monitoring during an assessment phase of therapy, symptom monitoring during therapy, correlating activity wi ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/activity-diary-no-times/

Worksheet

Activity Menu

Helping clients to choose which activities to target during behavioral activation can be accomplished in a variety of ways: activity monitoring can b ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/activity-menu/

Information Handout

Activity Planning

Research suggests that an activity is more likely to be completed if it is planned and scheduled in advance. The Activity Planning worksheet can be us ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/activity-planning/

Worksheet

Activity Selection

Activity selection is a tool for rating the difficulty of different activities. It is a helpful tool when clients have difficulty choosing between act ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/activity-selection/

Exercise

CBT Daily Activity Diary

Activity diaries can be used for activity monitoring during an assessment phase of therapy, symptom monitoring during therapy, correlating activity wi ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cbt-daily-activity-diary/

Worksheet

CBT Daily Activity Diary With Enjoyment And Mastery Ratings

Activity diaries can be used for activity monitoring during an assessment phase of therapy, symptom monitoring during therapy, correlating activity wi ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cbt-daily-activity-diary-e-m/

Worksheet

CBT Daily Activity Diary With No Time Slots

Activity diaries can be used for activity monitoring during an assessment phase of therapy, symptom monitoring during therapy, correlating activity wi ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cbt-daily-activity-diary-no-times/

Worksheet

Mastery And Pleasure Activity Diary

Activity diaries can be used for activity monitoring during an assessment phase of therapy, symptom monitoring during therapy, correlating activity wi ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/mastery-and-pleasure-activity-diary/

Worksheet

Task Planning And Achievement Record

The Task Planning and Achievement Record can be used to plan daily tasks and record goal attainment. It is most suited for encouraging frequent or rep ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/task-planning-and-achievement-record/

Worksheet

Things To Do List

The Things To Do List is a form of activity record. It encourages the client to think about the priority of each item and to record (and celebrate!) c ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/things-to-do-list/

Worksheet

TRAP TRAC

TRAP & TRAC worksheets can be usefully used as part of a behavioral activation programme as a way of overcoming responses which result in avoidanc ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/trap-trac/

Exercise

Intervention

Self-Help Programmes

Behavioral activation for depression

  1. Introduction to BA for depression download archived copy
  2. Monitoring activity and mood  download archived copy
  3. Roadmap: the activation plan  download archived copy
  4. Finding direction: values, flow, and strengths  download archived copy
  5. Avoidance and depression TRAPs  download archived copy
  6. Problem solving  download archived copy
  7. Thinking habits  download archived copy
  8. Next steps  download archived copy

Presentations

Recommended Reading

What Is Behavioral Activation?

History of BA

BA has its origins in the Skinner’s radical behavioral approach (Skinner, 1953). In the 1970s behaviorists trained by Skinner developed behavioral models of depression that proposed that depression could be treated by re-establishing contact with positive reinforcement and by learning social skills that are helpful for maintaining contact with stable sources of positive reinforcement (Ferster, 1973; Lewinsohn, 1974; Lewinsohn, Antonuccio, Steinmetz-Breckenridge, & Teri, 1984). Aaron Beck recognized the value of behavioral techniques in the treatment of depression and incorporated them into the original cognitive therapy manual (Beck, Rush, Shaw, & Emery, 1979). The paradigm shift toward cognitive approaches meant that purely behavioral treatments received relatively less attention. However, in 1996 Jacobson and colleagues published a component analysis comparing activity scheduling / behavioral activation; cognitive restructuring; and a combination of activity scheduling, cognitive restructuring, and core belief modification. The surprising result was that the combined CBT condition performed no better than the behavioral or cognitive interventions alone. In the wake of the Jacobson component analysis Martell, Addis, and Jacobson published a BA treatment package Depression in Context: Strategies for Guided Actionin 2001. At the same time Lejuez, Hopko, and Hopko published an alternative BA package in 2001 titled Brief Behavioral Activation Treatment for Depression (BATD). Hopko, Lejuez, Ruggiero, and Eifert (2003) published a helpful comparison of the BA and BATD packages, and Kanter, Busch, and Rusch (2009) provide a helpful synthesis of BA and BATD concepts.

BA Interventions

Two different implementations of behavioral activation are widely used: BA and BATD. Intervention techniques in BA/BATD include:

References

  • Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Ferster, C. B. (1973). A functional analysis of depression. American Psychologist, 28(10), 857–870.
  • Hopko, D. R., Lejuez, C. W., Ruggiero, K. J., & Eifert, G. H. (2003). Contemporary behavioral activation treatments for depression: Procedures, principles, and progress. Clinical Psychology Review, 23(5), 699–717.
  • Jacobson, N. S., Dobson, K. S., Truax, P. A., Addis, M. E., Koerner, K., Gollan, J. K., … & Prince, S. E. (1996). A component analysis of cognitive-behavioral treatment for depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64(2), 295–304.
  • Kanter, J. W., Busch, A. M., & Rusch, L. C. (2009). Behavioral activation. CBT Distinctive Features Series.New York: Routledge.
  • Lejuez, C. W., Hopko, D. R., & Hopko, S. D. (2001). A brief behavioral activation treatment for depression: Treatment manual. Behavior Modification, 25(2), 255–286.
  • Lewinsohn, P. (1974). A behavioral approach to depression. In R. J. Friedman & M. M. Katz (Eds.), Psychology of depression: Contemporary theory and research. Washington, DC: Winston.
  • Lewinsohn, P. M., Antonuccio, D. O., Steinmetz-Breckenridge, J., & Teri, L. (1984). The coping with depression course. Eugene, OR: Castalia Press.
  • Martell, C. R., Addis, M. E., & Jacobson, N. S. (2001). Depression in context: Strategies for guided action. New York: Norton.
  • Skinner, B. F. (1953). Science and human behavior (No. 92904). Simon and Schuster.