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Behavioral Activation for Depression: History, Treatment Description, and Empirical Review 

Behavioral Activation for Depression: History, Treatment Description, and Empirical Review
Chapter:
Behavioral Activation for Depression: History, Treatment Description, and Empirical Review
Author(s):

Brett Davis

, Steven C. Dufour

, Jessica A. Janos

, and Louisa G. Sylvia

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190929565.003.0017
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date: 21 May 2022

Behavioral activation (BA) is an empirically based psychotherapy for depression that improves symptoms by increasing a client’s contact with sources of positive reinforcement by making behavioral changes. Core aspects of BA approaches include performance and monitoring of scheduled activities that are selected based on a client’s values or specific depressive behaviors. To address individual and environmental barriers to activation, many BA treatment manuals also include additional components such as mindfulness techniques, social skills training, and contingency management strategies. Evidence supports the effectiveness of BA for treating depression, and researchers have found it to be as effective as many standard treatments for depression, including pharmacotherapy, cognitive therapy, and cognitive–behavioral therapy. Future directions are discussed, such as the application of BA to special populations and settings, including for groups, remote delivery, and specific subpopulations.

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