“Oh, I kept the first for another day!Yet knowing how way leads on to way,I doubted if I should
ever come back.”
Each of us may be the only one who is aware of our feelings and thoughts; they can be kept private,
and any given thought or emotion may not have an impact on our lives. That is not the case with
behaviors. Once we take action—choose which road to travel—we make an irrevocable move in a
certain direction. In addition, the potentially public and observable nature of behaviors intensifies their
impact. Although background, emotions, and thoughts may underlie our behaviors, the actions we take
are most likely to determine the direction of our lives as well as our relationships with others and their
perceptions of us. Even a small act such as leaving for work early has a profound impact if it enables a
person to avoid an accident, meet a new friend in the cafeteria, and make a positive impression on a
Sometimes people feel overwhelmed and immobilized when they consider the possible impact of their
behaviors and so avoid making choices and taking action. However, inaction is an action in itself and
does have consequences.
Part 5 of this book focuses primarily on treatment systems designed to modify behaviors and actions.
However, because behavioral approaches to counseling and psychotherapy are typically integrated with
cognitive approaches, we also pay attention to the integration of behavioral and cognitive approaches to
reviews the theory and strategies of behavioral and cognitive-behavioral counseling
and psychotherapy, paying particular attention to Donald Meichenbaum’s approach to cognitive-
focuses on reality therapy, developed by William Glasser, which is
particularly useful in settings such as schools, correctional institutions, and substance use treatment
programs that emphasize changing behavior. Finally,
reviews solution-focused brief
therapy, an efficient and widely used approach that helps people build on strengths and successes to
effect change in their lives.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ACTIONS IN COUNSELING AND PSYCHOTHERAPY
Focusing on behavior change has many advantages in treatment, most of which are similar to the
advantages of focusing on cognitions. However, an emphasis on actions has additional advantages as
well as some drawbacks.
The Advantages of Focusing on Actions
Most clinicians recognize that emotions, thoughts, and actions have reciprocal relationships. Whether
or not clinicians focus primarily on behaviors, they should be aware of the potential benefits of paying
attention to clients’ actions.
The Accessibility of Behaviors
Behaviors usually are more accessible than either thoughts or emotions. Think back to yesterday at this
same time. You may have difficulty recalling your thoughts and feelings, but you can probably
remember where you were and what you were doing. You may have been listening to a lecture, driving
home from work, or taking a nap.
Because behaviors are linked to the structure of our days, we can