Behavior modification, also called behavior therapy, refers to treatment techniques designed to target self-destructive behaviors. It is basically a consistent reward/consequence system, which helps people trade bad habits and actions for positive ones. Behavior therapy is frequently used to treat anxiety or mood based conditions in individuals of all ages, however, the earlier it is employed, the more effective it is. The growing brains of children and adolescents make them more malleable to behavioral changes than adults who have been set in their ways for years.
What is it used for?
Behavior modification is used by psychiatrists, psychotherapists as well as other medical professionals. Some of the specific disorders it is used to treat include :
- Bipolar Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Substance Abuse
- Personality Disorders and Social Phobia
How Is It Used?
Although each treatment plan needs to be individualized depending on the issue, many of the basic strategies remain the same. Behavior modification techniques include positive reinforcement, or a system of rewards and privileges, for good behavior and meeting goals. It also involves negative reinforcements, or consequences, for breaking the established rules. Although these ideas are not new to any parent who has raised a child, there are several factors that are required to make it work.
- Involvement – An individual needs to feel invested in making changes. This is often done achieved through selecting high value rewards for meeting goals. Parents of youth with behavioral issues particularly need to make sure that they include their child in order to make sure that the trade-off is motivating.
- Consistency – Behavior modification does not work if the goals and parameters are not clearly defined and adhered to. Patience is a major requirement, since many negative behaviors take some time to truly change; however, remaining consistent is the only way for an individual being treated to learn to trust the consequences of their actions and environment.
- Flexibility – Individuals change as they go through the treatment process. What worked last month might need to be tweaked in order to remain high value. Be open to new ideas and finding the right mix that appeals to your teen in each emotional stage. Professional guidance is extremely helpful when you want to make sure you are still headed in a positive direction.
Results of Behavioral Therapy
Behavioral modification therapy should not be considered a ‘cure’ for any disorder or condition. Rather, it is a method used to help individuals cope with their issues and deal with everyday challenges in a healthy way. Gaining the tools needed to make positive decisions is a lifelong skill that should be utilized on a regular basis as long as the condition persists. The length of treatment plan required largely depends on an individual’s needs and goals as well as how quickly they make progress. Liahona Academy is a residential treatment center in southern Utah, specializing in helping troubled teen boys through behavior modification techniques. With over 15 years of experience, we have helped thousands of families throughout the country find the best option for their troubled sons. Call us today for a free consultation (800-675-8101).