It is normal for teens to spend their adolescent years testing their boundaries and their parents. 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, depression, anxiety, substance abuse or mental disorders are all examples of conditions that may benefit from consistent therapy through behavior modification techniques.
Behavioral modification is essentially a system of therapeutic intervention methods, designed to 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 is Involved In Behavioral Therapy?
Operant conditioning is the basis for behavior modification therapy. This means that behavior actions are shaped through reinforcement or the lack of it. Two types of reinforcement used to create a therapy plan are Positive and Negative.
Positive Reinforcement – Positive reinforcement encourages desirable behavior through a reward system. The most successful situations allow the teen to be part of determining the rewards or privileges offered in order to create motivation.
Negative Reinforcement – Negative reinforcement is used in conjunction with positive reinforcement and involves the removal of something desirable associated with breaking the rules or exhibiting bad behavior.
Although the basic principles of behavior modification therapy are familiar to most parents, the key to success is strict consistency, patience and finding the right balance when setting goals. While this type of therapy is frequently used in outpatient conditions, some parents may find that their teen is more than they can handle at home. In 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 peers and authority figures.
Whichever method suits your son most, through practice and guidance from trained professionals as well as support from you, he can learn to adjust 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).