Behavioral vs. Functional Health

“Behavioral health” is a term that was coined in the 1970s. It is typically used in the field of medicine and refers to mental health and substance use disorders. As the words imply, the focus is on a person’s “behavior” and how they affect physical, mental, and social well-being. As a result, treatment is typically reduced to simply stopping the undesired behavior(s). This approach is referred to as a “behavioral” approach and often results in relapse or “addiction substitution”.

Addiction substitution is when a new addictive pattern replaces one that has stopped. This happens when the underlying “root” cause or function behind the addictive pattern has not been addressed.

At Healing Springs Ranch, we believe that people are MORE THAN JUST THEIR BEHAVIORS. We also recognize that all addictive behaviors serve a purpose or “function.”  Our “functional” approach helps to identify the “root” cause underlying the behaviors as opposed to just the behaviors themselves.

Said another way, HSR focuses on the “WHY?” behaviors as opposed to the “WHAT?” behaviors. We recognize all addictive patterns (substance addictions and process addictions) as a SYMPTOM of (or solution to) an underlying internal problem.

This underlying problem is the inability to manage emotional pain, conflict, or insecurities. Therefore, the addictive patterns are recognized as coping skills, albeit unhealthy ones, that serve to numb out, medicate, escape, avoid, or distract from the feelings.

This model also recognizes the addictive nature inherent in many psychiatric or mental health symptoms and diagnoses (i.e. depression, anxiety, bipolar, personality disorders etc.).

As a result, true sustained recovery relies on working our 4 P’s. Identifying past emotional pain, recognizing patterns, practicing emotional tolerance (building your emotional muscles), and realigning with your purpose and personal mission.

Below is a chart that helps you to better understand the differences between the standard “behavioral” model and our “functional” model at HSR.