- Behavior Therapy is the application of techniques intended to create behavioral changes that are based on the principles of the conditioning theories of learning.
- These are characterized by multiple theories and techniques.
- The foundation is in Pavlov's classical conditioning, Skinner's operant conditioning and Bandura's Social Learning theaory.
- Skinner: behavior can be empirically investigated only through the measurement of observable behavior
- Withholding reinforcement = extinction
- This paradigm also includes Cognitive Behavior approaches
- All behavior is learned and can be defined and changed
- Change occurs by rearranging "contingencies of reinforcement" - altering what happens before and after the behavior
Social Learning Theory: Comprised of 3 elements
- Target Behaviors (the target of change)
- Anticedent behaviors or events (events that precede the behavior)
- Consequences (events that follow the behavior)
Behavior Therapy Paradigm A-B-C
A (anticentent) ->B (behavior) -> C (consequences)
- In treatment the client(s) must identify DESIRED behaviors not just the undesired
- Coercive Process - negative reinforcement, the termination of a behavior (threats) upon occurrence of the desired behavior (compliance)
- Information processing- acquisition, storage and utilization of information (includes perception, language and memory).
- Beliefs and Belief Systems- ideas attitudes and expectations about self, others and experience
- Self Statements- private monologues that influence behavior and feelings
- Problem solving and coping - conceptual and symbolic processes involved in arriving at effective responses to problematic situations.
Behavioral Social Work Practice: goal is to increase desireable behavior and decrease undesirable behavior so the client can improve daily functioning.
- Focus on the here and now
- Build on client strengths
- Etiology of behavior is not investigated
- Traditionally a diagnostic label was not pursued and thought of as stigmatizing but with current approaches, there is more integration of diagnostic classifications (likely due to requirements from insurance companies)
- Build a strong therapeutic relationship
- Involve the client as much as possible in each step of the assessment/intervention
- Identify problematic behavior (perception of who does what)
- Identify priorities, antecedents & consequences
- Identify contingencies
- Identify recurrent patterns
- Secure a commitment
- Begin to identify targets (desireable behaviors)
- Discuss possible targets
- Allow time for all family members to present concerns (if applicable)
- When targets are established, set conditions for a baseline measure
- Determine if assessment indicates a change, does one or more participants require more attention (i.e. should it be couples therapy rather than family therapy?)
- Identify target behaviors
- Establish new antecedents
- Establish new consequences
- Formulate a written contract
- Follow up call
- Reference contract, any changes require a consensus from family/clients
- Check tally (in families parents usually tally target behaviors) provide positive reinforcement
- Discuss problems between sessions
- Conflict resolution
- Evaluate program design
- When target behaviors reach desired frequency, move toward termination
- Evaluate progress
- Set conditions for maintenance
- Review basic learning principles
- Have family continue tally for 4 weeks
- Set up appt at 4 weeks for termination and f/u
- Very helpful for anxiety, depression, phobias, addiction, sexual dysfunction, relationship issues.
- Often paired with systematic desensitization
- Most recommended treatment for Phobic Disorders
- Also indicated for social skills training, hyperactivity, developmental problems
- Interventions must consider cultural issues and differences
- Empirically validated
- Sometimes combined with pharmacotherapy
- Need to maintain a record of what approaches work most effectively with what problems
Adapted from Social Work Treatment by Francis J. Turner, 4th Ed.