The connections between our thoughts and our actions are powerful. We often don’t realize or fail to appreciate the importance of maintaining a positive focus no matter what situations we find ourselves in. We are all susceptible to falling into ineffective or harmful thought patterns, particularly when things go wrong. However, some people are more prone to letting negative thoughts turn into problematic behaviors.

When problems are exacerbated by unhealthy thought patterns or psychological trauma, being aware of how one’s thoughts can contribute to the symptoms is key to overcoming the associated distress. The field of applied behavior analysis (ABA) emphasizes and encourages healthy modes of communication, social skills, and other activities. It also addresses such adaptive learning skills as hygiene, motor dexterity, self-sufficiency, punctuality, and positive behaviors in employment settings.

An article in Cognitive Therapy and Research defines behavior therapy as a therapeutic process that attempts to change the “maladaptive cognitions” in human thinking that can make emotional distress and unhealthy behaviors that much worse. Examples of such conditions are a person’s beliefs, models of the world, self-image, and feelings about the future. By applying various therapeutic strategies, behavior therapists attempt to alter these maladaptive cognitions as a way to reduce and eliminate emotional distress and unhealthy behaviors.