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The Crucial Choice: Preventative vs. Reactive Behavior in Therapy

Blog post written by,

Brianna Allen, PsyD

In today's fast-paced world, it is common to fall into the habit of being reactive rather than preventative in various aspects of our lives. This tendency extends to our mental health, where we often wait until we are in crisis before seeking therapy. However, the importance of preventative behavior in the context of therapy cannot be overstated. In this blog post, we will explore why preventative measures are key to maintaining good mental health, and how they compare to reactive approaches.

Understanding Preventative and Reactive Behavior in Therapy

Preventative and reactive behavior in therapy refer to two distinct approaches to managing one's mental health:

Preventative Behavior: This approach focuses on taking proactive measures to maintain and improve one's mental health, even when there are no immediate issues or crises. Preventative behavior is like regular exercise for your mind, keeping it strong and resilient.

Reactive Behavior: In contrast, reactive behavior in therapy involves seeking help only when you are already experiencing distress or crisis. Many individuals wait until their symptoms become unbearable before reaching out to a therapist.

The Importance of Preventative Behavior

· Early Intervention

o Preventative therapy is akin to early intervention. It allows individuals to address mental health issues before they escalate into major problems. Just as a routine medical checkup can detect health issues in their early stages, a regular mental health check-in can catch emotional and psychological challenges early.

· Resilience Building

o Preventative therapy can be a way to build mental resilience. Through counseling, individuals can acquire the skills and strategies necessary to cope with life's challenges effectively. They learn how to manage stress, regulate emotions, and maintain overall well-being.

· Self-Awareness

o Preventative therapy encourages self-awareness. When people engage in regular therapy sessions, they gain a deeper understanding of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This self-awareness is essential for making informed decisions about their mental health and well-being.

The Limitations of Reactive Behavior

· Crisis Management

o Reactive behavior in therapy primarily focuses on managing crises and symptoms. While this is a necessary approach when individuals are already in distress, it often results in a cycle of addressing problems as they arise, without addressing their root causes.

· Longer Recovery

o Individuals who opt for reactive therapy may require a longer recovery period because they have allowed their mental health to get to a particularly distressing level. Preventative therapy can help avoid the need for extensive treatment by addressing issues before they become severe.

Striking a Balance

Ideally, the best approach to therapy involves a combination of both preventative and reactive measures. Preventative therapy can serve as a foundation for developing adaptive coping skills, learning more about your mental processes, and maintaining your mental health. Reactive therapy is essential for addressing immediate concerns, developing coping skills, and managing chronic symptoms.

Find Your Fit

In the context of therapy, the importance of preventative behavior cannot be overstated. Preventative measures help build mental resilience, promote self-awareness, and prevent issues from escalating to crisis levels. While reactive therapy has its place, it likely should not be the sole approach to mental health. By incorporating preventative measures into our lives, we can take a proactive stance toward mental well-being, ultimately leading to a happier and more balanced life. Remember, it's never too early to invest in your mental health.

Dr. Brianna Allen offers telehealth services focused on the treatment of Anxiety disorders, phobias and OCD for children and adults. For more information, please contact her directly via email at, or call (561) 299-1447. Schedule today your FREE 30-minute phone consultation.


Brianna Allen, PsyD

Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders, Anxiety, and Phobias specialist

I am a Licensed Psychologist in the state of Florida, and I am passionate about serving the communities that I work with. I specialize in helping children, adolescents, and adults who struggle with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and related disorders (e.g., Trichotillomania/hair-pulling, Excoriation/skin-picking), Anxiety, Phobias, Depression, and phase of life issues. I strive to deliver multiculturally competent services, my practice is inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community.


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