Behavioral Activation Group Therapy Therapist Manual

Examining Alternative Behaviors in Different Situations

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Examining Alternative Behaviors in Different Situations

Purpose: To help the patient learn from experiences how to better handle problem situations (i.e., how to better cope).

Method: Examine the incident of interest and generate alternative options for ways to behave. The goal is to identify behaviors to use in the future when a similar situation arises.
Example: A patient reports that he had an argument with his wife in which he lost control and began yelling and calling her names. The therapist’s job is to help the patient generate alternative ways that he could have handled the situation. For example, he might have told her that he was too angry to talk and that he needed time to cool down. Or he might have withdrawn and said nothing. Or he might have physically assaulted her. Each alternative is rated on its merits in terms of getting the patient’s needs met and being generally healthy.
**It is important to include worse alternatives to what the patient actually did so that the patient can see things in a realistic perspective. Thus, in most cases, while there are many things that he could have done differently that would have been healthier, there are also worse things that he could have done. This is important in that it shifts the patient’s focus on himself as a terrible person to a person who could have made a better choice.


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