What is behavior modification?

Behavior modification is a type of treatment that focuses on altering maladaptive behavior, teaching patients more adaptive behavior, and breaking bad habits. There are a number of applications for behavior modification, and there are also a variety of approaches to this type of treatment. It is a good idea to consult with several experts before performing behavior modification to determine if it is appropriate for a patient and to learn about different approaches to see if one is more appropriate for a patient than another. This type of therapy is offered by a variety of mental health professionals.

In behavior modification sessions, patients are essentially coached out of the maladaptive behavior. It can take numerous sessions, and the approach is usually tailored to the patient. Approaches can be as simple as timeouts for a child acting out in class, or as complex as biofeedback systems designed to stop patients from biting their nails. Some behavior modifications use punishment in a variety of ways, which has drawn criticism as some people feel that punishment is ineffective and can even be harmful.

Phobias, anxiety disorders and bad habits can be treated with this type of therapy. For example, a patient who is afraid of water might undergo systematic desensitization to eliminate the fear. Bad habits that can be treated with behavior modification can include nail biting, hair chewing, thumb sucking, and a variety of other problems. Behavior modification can also be used to treat problems such as bedwetting or acting out.

Patients with developmental disabilities can sometimes benefit from teacher adaptive behavior sessions to help them feel more comfortable in society. Behavior modification is also used to treat conditions such as autism, providing patients with skills that will increase their level of functionality in society. Ongoing behavior modification therapy can be used in both children and adults.

While the term "behavior modification" may sound a bit sinister, the sessions are usually gentle. The practitioner does not want to create additional behavioral problems by approaching the patient in an aggressive manner or by choosing an approach method that is inappropriate for the patient. While some tactics in earlier times may have been harsh or abusive, most practitioners today recognize that these treatment methods are not effective and can be actively harmful, choosing the carrot over the stick when it comes to helping their patients.

Go up