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Behavioral Therapy


Focused on how to reinforce, extinguish, or modify a broad range of behaviors. In its infancy (1900's-1930's), behaviorism was concerned ... Stifle creativity. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Behavioral Therapy

Chapter 8
  • Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral Therapy
  • Formulated at the beginning of the 20th century.
  • Focused on how to reinforce, extinguish, or
    modify a broad range of behaviors.
  • In its infancy (1900s-1930s), behaviorism was
    concerned almost entirely with outward

John B. Watson
  • The first major advocate of behaviorism.
  • Worked with a child named Little Albert to
    demonstrate that human emotions are amenable to
    being conditioned.

Behaviorism in the 1950s-1960s
  • B.F.Skinner (1953) operant conditioning.
  • Joseph Wolpe (1958) study of respondent
  • (i.e., classical)
  • Hans Eysenck (1960) treatment of
  • abnormal
  • Albert Bandura (1963) effects of vicarious
  • learning.

John Krumboltz (1966)
  • Credited as one of the major personalities to
    popularize behaviorism in counseling.
  • Drew upon Banduras earlier work and in doing so
    revolutionized the counseling profession.

Categories of Behaviorism
  • By the 1980s, behavioral approaches to
    therapy had split into 3 main categories
  • Stimulus-response model
  • Applied behavior analysis
  • Social-cognitive theory

B. F. Skinner
  • Born in 1904 in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania
  • Wanting to be a writer, he moved to Greenwich
    Village to to live among writers where he
    discovered the works of Ivan Pavlov, John B.
    Watson, Bertrand Russell, and Francis Bacon.
  • Soon, he gave up his writings to become a
  • Classified as a behavioral determinist

View of Human Nature/Personality
  • Assumes that all behavior is learned whether
    adaptive or maladaptive.
  • Believes that learning can be effective in
    changing maladaptive behavior or acquiring new
  • Rejects the idea that the human personality is
    composed of traits.

Stimulus-Response Model
  • The application of classical conditioning
    sometimes called respondent learning or the S-R
  • Learning occurs through the association of two
    stimuli, also known as the conditioning of
    involuntary responses.
  • Similarly, many human emotions, such as phobias,
    arise from paired associations.

  • After WWII, behaviorist researcher Mary Cover
    Jones demonstrated a process known as
    counter-conditioning that was shown to help
    people overcome phobic reactions.
  • Once these phobias are learned, new paired
    associations can be learned to take the place of
    the phobic reactions.

Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Focuses on how individuals operate in the
  • A person is rewarded or punished for actions,
    thereby learning to discriminate between
  • When a behavior is followed closely by a
    reinforcer, chances increase that the behavior
    will recur in similar circumstances.
  • The successor to operant conditioning, where a
    person must be involved as an active participant
    with the environment for learning to occur.

Social Cognitive Behavior
  • People acquire new knowledge and behavior by
    observing other people
  • without engaging in the behavior themselves.
  • without any direct consequences to themselves.
  • Depends on the theory that behavior is based on
    three separate but interacting regulatory
  • External stimulus events
  • External reinforcement
  • Cognitive mediational processes
  • Learning may occur independently of reinforcement.

Roles of the Counselor/Therapist
  • Assist the client in learning new, appropriate
    ways of acting or to modify or eliminate
    excessive actions.
  • Active in counseling sessions and functions as a
    learning specialist for the client.
  • S-R or applied-oriented counselors are direct and
    prescriptive in offering assistance.
  • Social cognitive learning oriented counselors
    serve as models.
  • For diagnosis, they describe clients according to
    the behaviors they display.

  • Focus on changing, modifying, or eliminating
  • Set up well-defined therapy goals with clients.
  • Focus on acquiring healthy, constructive ways of

4 Steps to Mutually Agreed on Goals(Blackham
Silberman, 1979)
  • Define the problem.
  • Take a developmental history.
  • Establish specific goals.
  • Determine the best methods for change.

Process and Techniques
  • Behavioral therapy is a process.
  • Concentrate on the here and now as opposed to
    the there and then of behavior.
  • Behavioral techniques stress the importance of
    obtaining empirical evidence and scientific
    support for any technique they use.

General Behavioral Techniques
  • Use of Reinforcers
  • Schedules of Reinforcement
  • Shaping
  • Generalization
  • Maintenance
  • Extinction
  • Punishment

Use of Reinforcers
  • Events that, when they follow a behavior,
    increase the probability of the behaviors
  • May be either positive or negative.
  • Positive considered pleasurable .
  • Negative removal of an aversive stimulus.
  • There are no universal positive reinforcers.

Schedules of Reinforcement
  • Continuous reinforcement reinforcement every
    time the behavior occurs.
  • Best reinforcement schedule for when a behavior
    is first being learned.
  • Intermittent reinforcement reinforcement on an
    intermittent or inconsistent basis.
  • Schedules of reinforcement operate according to
    either the number of responses (ratio) or the
    length of time (interval) between reinforcers.
  • Both ratio and interval schedules are either
    fixed or variable.

  • Behavior learned gradually in steps through
    successive approximation.
  • May break down behavior into manageable units.

  • The display of behaviors in environments outside
    where they were originally learned.
  • Indicates that transference into another setting
    has occurred.

  • Being consistent in doing the actions desired
    without depending on anyone else for support.
  • Accomplished through
  • Self-observation
  • Self-recording
  • Self-monitoring increases client awareness of

Extinction and Punishment
  • Extinction - The elimination of a behavior
    because of a withdrawal of its reinforcement.
  • Punishment presenting an aversive stimulus to a
    situation to suppress or eliminate a behavior.
  • Usually behaviorists do not use punishment.

Specific Behavioral Techniques
  • Behavioral Rehearsal
  • Environmental Planning
  • Systematic Desensitization
  • Assertiveness Training
  • Contingency Contracts
  • Implosive Therapy
  • Flooding
  • Aversive Techniques
  • Covert Sensitization

Behavioral Rehearsal
  • Practicing a desired behavior until it is
    performed the way a client wishes.
  • Process consists of gradually shaping a behavior
    and getting corrective feedback.
  • Sometimes called role-playing because the client
    is practicing a new role.

Environmental Planning
  • Setting up part of the environment to promote or
    limit certain behaviors.
  • Ex. planning a daily schedule to avoid a
    specific setting and avoid painful memories of
    a certain place.

Systematic Desensitization
  • Designed to help clients overcome anxiety in
    particular situations.
  • Reciprocal inhibition a phenomenon based on the
    idea that people cannot feel anxious and relaxed
    at the same time.

Assertiveness Training
  • A person should feel free to express thoughts and
    feelings appropriately without feeling undue
  • Counterconditioning anxiety and reinforcing

Contingency Contracts
  • Contingency contracts spell out the following
  • The behaviors to be performed, changed, or
  • Rewards associated with achievement of these
  • Conditions under which rewards are to be received.

Implosive Therapy
  • Desensitizing clients to a situation by having
    them imagine an anxiety-producing situation that
    may have dire consequences.
  • Clients are not taught to relax first.
  • Should not be used by beginning counselors or
    with clients who have heart conditions.

  • The imagined anxiety-producing scene does not
    have dire consequences.
  • Instead, clients are just overwhelmed with images
    of these anxiety-producing stimuli.

Aversive Techniques
  • Useful when one behavior must be eliminated
    before another can be taught.
  • Time-out
  • Over-correction

Covert Sensitization
  • Undesired behavior is eliminated by associating
    it with unpleasantness.
  • Used with clients who have problems with smoking,
    obesity, substance abuse, and sexual deviation.

Aversive Stimuli and Effectiveness
  • In the long run, aversive stimuli are usually not
    effective by themselves for three reasons
  • Their negative emotional effects soon disappear.
  • They may interfere with the learning of desired
  • They may encourage the client to try to escape,
    which when successful, becomes a positive
  • Furthermore, ethical and legal concerns are
    associated with aversive techniques.

Multicultural and Gender Sensitive Issues
  • Positive
  • May help clients be more specific about what they
    want to do within their subculture and larger
    cultural groups.
  • Negative
  • Counselors must become even more attuned to
    culture-specific behaviors and how to address
    them appropriately.
  • Terms and techniques are free of reference to

Strengths and Contributions
  • Works well with clients who are predominantly
    goal- and action-oriented with a need for
    achievement and results.
  • Good with clients who are interested in changing
    either a discrete response or a limited number of
  • Deals directly with symptoms.
  • Appropriate for a number of disorders.
  • Focuses on the here and now.
  • Variety of techniques available.
  • Based on learning theory.
  • Supported by exceptional research.
  • Popular in institutional settings.

Limitations and Criticisms
  • Does not deal well with the total person, just
    explicit behavior(s).
  • Sometimes applied mechanically.
  • Best demonstrated under controlled conditions
    that are difficult to replicate.
  • Techniques may be ahead of the theory.
  • Ignores clients past histories and unconscious
  • Does not consider developmental stages.

Critics of Behavior Therapy
  • Critics charge that behaviorists
  • Program clients toward minimum or tolerable
    levels of behaving.
  • Reinforce conformity.
  • Stifle creativity.
  • Ignore client needs for self-fulfillment,
    self-actualization, and feelings of self-worth.

The Case of Linda Behavioral Therapy
  • How would you conceptualize this case using
    behavioral therapy?
  • What would be your treatment plan for this client
    using a behavioral approach?