Behavior therapy: Redefining strengths and limitations

Marvin R. Goldfried, Louis G. Castonguay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


This article highlights some of the strengths and limitations that have been associated with the behavioral approach to intervention. For each of behavior therapy's theoretical and empirical contributions, we point out how these very strengths may also paradoxically serve to limit its clinical effectiveness. For the most part, the shortcomings in behavior therapy's strength have come to light as the result of attempts to apply these conceptual and empirical contributions in clinical practice. Included among the "limiting strengths" is the fact that behavior therapy has provided the field with a finegrained analysis of how individuals react to specific life situations; has been dedicated to the development and study of specific effective techniques; makes use of a skill-training orientation to therapy; focuses on the client's current life situation; has been influential in encouraging psychotherapy outcome research; and has provided various forms of intervention to reduce specific symptomatology. Some of the new avenues, often based on other theoretical orientations, that are being explored by behavior therapy in order to counteract some of its potential clinical limitations are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-526
Number of pages22
JournalBehavior Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology


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