Leone Centre Glossary

Behavioural Activation

Behavioural Activation

Behavioural activation (BA) is a core component of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) designed to help individuals incorporate activities that align with their values and interests into their routines. This method is particularly helpful for addressing mood disorders by increasing engagement in activities that can improve mood and overall well-being.

Common Challenges

Avoidance and Withdrawal

Individuals with mood disorders often avoid and withdraw from activities that could improve their mood. This can lead to a cycle of inactivity and further emotional distress.

Lack of Motivation

A common challenge is finding the motivation to engage in meaningful activities. This lack of motivation can be both a symptom and a cause of depressive states, making it a key target for therapeutic intervention.

Negative Patterns

Persistent engagement in activities that reinforce negative mood states, such as excessive rumination or isolation, can perpetuate the cycle of depression and anxiety.

Key Elements

Activity Scheduling

One of the main approaches in behavioural activation is activity scheduling. This involves planning and engaging in activities that can help improve mood. By creating a structured plan, individuals can increase their exposure to rewarding experiences.

Mood Monitoring

Mood monitoring involves tracking mood changes in response to different activities. This helps individuals identify the activities which improve their mood, providing insights into their emotional responses and helping guide future activity planning.

Value-Based Actions

Behavioural activation encourages individuals to engage in activities that align with their personal values and goals. This improves mood and boosts a sense of purpose and fulfilment.

Defining Behavioural Activation in CBT

Behavioural activation is a therapeutic approach within Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that focuses on helping individuals increase their engagement in positive and meaningful activities. This method aims to counteract the patterns of avoidance and inactivity that often accompany mood disorders.

How it Helps

Mood Improvement

Engaging in structured activities through behavioural activation can significantly help to relieve depression and anxiety. By participating in rewarding activities, individuals can improve their mood, energy levels, and overall outlook on life.

How it Works

The process of behavioural activation involves several key approaches, including activity scheduling, mood monitoring, and value-based actions. These activities help individuals break the cycle of inactivity and negative thinking, promoting a more active and fulfilling lifestyle.


What is behavioural activation in CBT?

Behavioural activation is a component of CBT that focuses on helping individuals engage in activities that improve their mood and align with their values.

How does behavioural activation help with depression?

By encouraging participation in positive activities, behavioural activation helps counteract the withdrawal and inactivity that contribute to depression, leading to improved mood and increased motivation.

Can behavioural activation be used for anxiety?

Yes, behavioural activation can also help with anxiety by encouraging individuals to engage in activities that reduce stress and promote relaxation.

What are some examples of activities used in behavioural activation?

Examples include physical exercise, social interactions, hobbies, and any activities that the individual finds rewarding and enjoyable.


  1. Lejuez, C. W., Hopko, D. R., & Hopko, S. D. (2001). A Brief Behavioural Activation Treatment for Depression. Behaviour Modification.
  2. Martell, C. R., Dimidjian, S., & Herman-Dunn, R. (2010). Behavioural Activation for Depression: A Clinician’s Guide. The Guilford Press.
  3. Jacobson, N. S., Martell, C. R., & Dimidjian, S. (2001). Behavioural Activation Treatment for Depression: Returning to Contextual Roots. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice.
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision