Most experts agree that it is normal for teenage boys and girls to spend their adolescent years testing and pushing the boundaries and driving their parents crazy. Some, however, take behavior issues to the extreme and consistently put themselves in situations that are unsafe or impede normal development.
Issues such as anger, defiance, anxiety, depression, abuse trauma, adoption issues, bipolar, substance abuse or mental disorders can each be a factor in the conditions that shape a teen’s behavior. They may benefit from consistent therapy through behavior modification techniques.
Behavioral modification is essentially a collection of therapeutic intervention methods, that can help troubled teens gain the tools they need to target and correct specific negative behavioral issues. Modification therapy is considered most effective when it is implemented during adolescence or younger, since youth are emotionally and mentally more malleable.
What Does Behavioral Therapy Involve?
Operant conditioning is the foundation of behavior modification therapy. This means that behavior actions are formed via reinforcement or the lack of it. There are a few types of reinforcement that can be utilized in creating a therapy plan. They are termed positive and negative.
- Positive Reinforcement – Encourages desirable behavior via a reward system. The most successful situations allow the teen to be part of selecting rewards or privileges offered in order to create motivation.
- Negative Reinforcement – Used in conjunction with positive reinforcement and involves the taking something desirable away when the person breaks the rules or exhibits bad behavior.
How Is Behavior Modification Used?
Although the basic principles of behavior modification therapy might sound familiar to many parents, the key to success is to remain consistent. Also, patience and balance are important when setting family goals. While this type of therapy is often used in outpatient conditions, some parents may discover that their teen is more than they can handle on their own at home.
For such situations, a full-time facility, such as a residential treatment center or therapeutic boarding school is ideal. They allow teens to be immersed in an environment dedicated to helping them effectively change their behavior without the triggers and temptations of day to day life at home.
Students ultimately learn to self-adjust through the consequences and rewards of their own behavior, rather than negatively controlling their environment. Full time programs often employ adventure and recreation therapy in their curriculum, so that their residents can gain healthy self-confidence through challenging their weaknesses and learning their strengths. Group and individual therapy is also employed as a way to address individual challenges and practice healthy communication with teachers, peers, administration and other authority figures like therapists.
Whichever method suits your son most, through practice and guidance from trained professionals as well as support from you, he can learn to modify his actions for more positive results.
Liahona Academy is a residential treatment center located in southern Utah. We have over 15 years of experience utilizing behavior modification techniques in order to help troubled teen boys turn their lives around. Contact us today for a free consultation (800-675-8101).