Behavioral Activation

Behavioral Activation in Addiction Recovery2

You used to love yoga class. You went several times a week and it was the best part of your day; time to gather with friends, unwind, get some social interaction and movement in. But lately, you haven’t wanted to go. You dread it, make all sorts of excuses why you can’t make it, and you feel worn out just thinking about going. You know you probably should go, so you have guilt about that too.


Using Behavioral Activation Therapy, we begin to ease you back into your regular yoga class routine and we monitor how it goes. We set goals, we evaluate how you felt about it, and we make moves forward. Behavioral Activation Therapy has been proven to be highly effective for depression and addiction treatment, ranking higher than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in efficacy in some studies. (That’s impressive!) Of course, this is most effectively performed alongside a therapist, but let’s pull some techniques out today.


First, we goal-set:


  • I will attend yoga 2x this week. (This is still less than our normal level, but more than we are currently doing now.)

  • I will book these classes ahead of time and lay out my clothes and mat the night before

  • Next week, I will attend 3 classes


Then, we use activity monitoring and rate how the event actually went, so we can identify patterns and see improvement:


  • In my first class, my mood was about a 3/10. I felt anxious and didn’t really want to be there, but I did it.

  • In my second class, I was up to about a 6. I still didn’t want to go at first, but I enjoyed the class.


Taking a step back from our desire to perform an action, we can view it a little more objectively. This helps us get out of our head, out of isolation and avoidance. When we set goals and monitor our mood, we can see progress and have more concrete data to go off of. Have you been avoiding things you usually enjoy? Is there something you could use this tool for today?

Daughters, S. B., Magidson, J. F., Anand, D., Seitz-Brown, C. J., Chen, Y., & Baker, S. (2018). The effect of a behavioral activation treatment for substance use on post-treatment abstinence: a randomized controlled trial. Addiction (Abingdon, England), 113(3), 535–544.

Rogers Behavioral Health. (2014, January.) What is Behavioral Activation? https://rogersbh.org/about-us/newsroom/blog/what-behavioral-activation

Therapist Aid. (n.d.) Behavioral Activation. https://www.therapistaid.com/therapy-guide/behavioral-activation-guide