for bad habits and impulsive behaviors
Research shows that Cognitive-Behavioral
Therapy (CBT) is the treatment of choice when we are dealing with anger
management issues or with inappropriate sexual behavior. In both cases,
feelings and impulses cause problems by giving rise to behaviors that over time
have become bad habits.
What is needed is more cognitive control - more ability to put a variety of healthy and effective thoughts and plans in place. These have the effect of giving us "pause" when we are in danger of acting out in a way that is unhealthy, and giving us ways to instead consciously choose the behaviors that are better for us and for those around us.
In practice, CBT involves a lot of thinking, discussing, and homework between sessions to discover the roots of our impulsive bad habits, to see how our motives and behaviors can become repeating cycles over time, and to put prevention plans in place that make sure that these negative cycles do not continue.
This approach takes some time (a minimum of 15-25 sessions) but it is very successful. For example, I have worked with more than 200 adult sex offenders using this approach, and the recidivism rate (re-offence rate) for these clients has been about 5%. This may seem remarkable, but it is commonly found with experienced therapists who use CBT for these types of issues.