Behavioral Activation: Distinctive Features, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Behavioral Activation

Distinctive Features, 1st Edition

By Jonathan W. Kanter, Andrew M. Busch, Laura C. Rusch


200 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2009-04-20
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Behavioral activation theory indicates that much clinically relevant human behavior is a function of positive reinforcement, and that when positive reinforcement is reduced, lost, or chronically low depression results. Behavioral activation encourages clients to obtain and nurture the skills that allow them to establish and maintain contact with diverse, stable sources of positive reinforcement. This creates a life of meaning, value and purpose.

Behavioral Activation: Distinctive Features clarifies the fundamental theoretical and practical features of behavioral activation, integrating various techniques into a unified whole that is efficient and effective. The book includes numerous case examples and transcribed segments from therapy sessions and outlines behavioral concepts using straightforward terms and examples so that all therapists can see the utility and practical value of this approach.

This book will provide essential guidance for students and new therapists, as well as more experienced clinicians wanting to know more about what makes behavioral activation a distinct form of cognitive behavior therapy.


"This book gives us new voices in the literature on behavioral activation. It is to be commended for its practicality as well as its well articulated treatment of basic behavioral theory. The authors bring together the principles of BA with important concepts in other newer behavior therapies in a readable and engaging format. Behavioral Activation is an outstanding work, and will be a welcomed addition to the libraries of beginning and seasoned clinicians." - Christopher Martell, University of Washington, USA

"All therapists who treat depression should read this excellent overview of behavioural activation. The authors describe an integrated model of depression and a stepped care approach in the application of the behavioural activation. There are good clinical examples and descriptions of how to apply the principles in practice." - David Veale, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK

"This book is one of the latest additions to the CBT Distinctive Features Series, an attractive collection of inexpensive hardbacks that distill key ideas into brief, accessible, focused presentations. Quite the page-turner. These authors have succeeded nicely at a difficult task. By page 8, it's clear that this is a treatment worth learning. This is an accessible summary that any clinician would appreciate. A lot of people who have been suffering are going to have an amazing chance to get better." -Mitch Earlrywine in PsycCRITIQUES Vol. 54

"[…] this is an accessible, clear and concise guide to implementing a treatment approach from assessment to follow-up, nicely grounded in theory and research. It serves as a timely reminder of the importance and effectiveness of the "B" in CBT for Depression." - Nicholas Page, Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, Volume 40, 2012

Table of Contents

Part I: The Distinctive Theoretical Features of Behavioral Activation. A Distinctive History. A Distinct Definition of Human Behavior. Distinct Terminology. A Distinct Philosophy and Theory. The Distinct Behavioral ABC Model. The Ubiquity of Positive Reinforcement. The Meaning of Life. Depression and Positive Reinforcement. The Ubiquity of Negative Reinforcement. The Role of Punishment. An (Almost) Complete Behavioral Model of Depression. The Role of Cognition. The Role of Insight. Activation and Acceptance. Part II: The Distinctive Practical Features of Behavioral Activation. A Distinct Structure. The Initial Treatment Rationale. Activity Monitoring. Values Assessment. Simple Activation. The Importance of Homework. Functional Assessment. Post-it Notes and Other Stimulus Control Procedures. Skills Training. Contingency Management. Mindful Valued Activation. Ending Therapy. Thinking Functionally about Suicide and Medication. The Therapeutic Relationship in BA. A Distinct Flexible Framework: Adaptations for Minorities. The Promise of BA.

About the Authors

Jonathan W. Kanter is Assistant Professor and Clinic Coordinator at the Department of Psychology, and a Research Scholar at the Center for Addictions and Behavioral Health, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Andrew M. Busch is currently a pre-doctoral intern at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a researcher in the Psychosocial Research Program at Butler Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.

Laura C. Rusch is an advanced graduate student at the Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

About the Series

CBT Distinctive Features

This exciting new series asks leading practitioners and theorists of the main CBT therapies to write simply and briefly on what constitutes the main features of their particular approach.

Each Distinctive Features book will highlight the thirty main features – practical and theoretical – of its respective approach. The series as a whole will be essential reading for psychotherapists, counsellors, clinical and counselling psychologists of all orientations who wish to learn more about the range of new and developing cognitive-behavioural approaches.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / Counseling
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health