Will Behavior Modification Help Your Teen?


If your teen is struggling, getting him into therapy can be helpful. As a part of his therapeutic treatment plan, you may start to hear about behavior modification therapy. If you’ve never encountered it, you may wonder just what it is and how it can help your teen.

Within the umbrella of behavior modification are several types of therapy, each offering benefits to the person who is struggling. Each can be used to help families and individuals alike with changing behavior and outcomes. The more you learn about behavior modification, the more you’ll understand how it can benefit your teen.

Exploring both behavior therapy options and behavior modification techniques can be beneficial.

Insight into behavioral therapy

Behavioral therapy is a broad term that covers several therapeutic methods used to address mental health disorders. This therapy helps patients to identify and modify unhealthy and potentially self-destructive behaviors. It is based on recognizing that each of the behaviors we exhibit are learned behaviors, and that learned unhealthy behaviors can be changed.

Behavior modification therapy focuses on identifying and addressing the problems individuals are struggling with now and how they can work towards changing the behaviors responsible for the problems.

Is behavioral modification therapy right for your teen?

Behavioral modification therapy can prove beneficial for those struggling with a wide range of mental health disorder types, including some of the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic disorders
  • Issues with anger
  • ADHD
  • PTSD
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Phobias
  • OCD
  • Personality disorders
  • Self-harm
  • Issues with substance abuse

If your teen is struggling, you may find that behavior modification is the first step in helping him to find balance once again.

Types of behavior modification therapies

Several types of therapy are included under the behavioral modification umbrella, including:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This is a very popular type of therapy, and for a good reason. It blends cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. Your teen will find his treatment centered around how his thoughts and belief system will influence his behavior and moods. CBT quite often focuses on the current issues and concerns facing the patient and how they can work through them to resolve them. The long-term goals of CBT are often to alter how a person thinks and change unhealthy behavior patterns into much healthier ones. One of the cornerstones of CBT is to help patients recognize that it is often not the problems themselves that they are struggling with but how their experiences have shaped how they view and process the issues.
  • Aversion therapy. Quite often, aversion therapy is used to treat patients who are struggling with substance abuse. If your teen is struggling with drug abuse or alcoholism, this type of therapy may prove beneficial. It is often used with success on adults. The way that it works is that the person struggling with addiction is taught to link an unhealthy but desirable stimulus (alcohol or drugs in this case) with something that causes discomfort. Perhaps an unhappy memory from childhood or a moment during an injury.
  • Mindfulness. A form of meditation, mindfulness teaches you to be hyper-aware of what you are feeling, hearing and sensing in any given moment. Mindfulness blends a range of practices to help reduce stress and relax both body and mind. Focused breathing will also be included as a part of learning more about mindfulness.

It is important to remember that there’s no such thing as a one-size treatment plan when it comes to your teen. A range of therapeutic methods may be used or combined to meet his unique mental wellness needs.

Behavior modification techniques

There are two primary methods involved in behavioral modification. They are negative reinforcement and positive reinforcement. You may have heard a bit about these methods throughout your parenting journey, as knowledge of positive and negative reinforcement can help you to work with your toddler or young child’s behavior. Not just for tantrum throwing toddlers, behavior modification can prove effective for anyone who needs to change up their behavior to see better positive outcomes.

Perhaps the most important step in moving negative behavior towards more positive behavior is understanding what may be triggering any negative action or negative behavior. By pinpointing the triggers, you will be better positioned to address them or even prevent them.

Positive reinforcement can look different for each teen. It could look like a reward of some sort, recognition of positive behavior, or praise for positive outcomes. This type of reinforcement is used to reward the altered attitude or behavior that ultimately results in a more positive outcome for your teen. In time, these positive behaviors will be almost second nature to your teen.

Negative reinforcement as a part of behavior modification may seem counterintuitive to helping your teen make better decisions. It can also feel like you’re doling out punishments to your defiant teen. Positive reinforcement adds positive behaviors that result in a positive and wanted outcome. Negative reinforcement removes negative behaviors to result in the wanted positive outcome. For example, if your teen is staying out past curfew, you may take away his driving privileges. If your teen is getting into trouble on the internet and is bullying others, you may take away his access to social media. In time, your teen is less likely to engage in these negative behaviors, so he can avoid the negative reinforcement or negative consequences that are associated with his poor behavior.

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on negative ideas or thinking patterns. Behavior modification focuses on behavior sequences, with the goal being to alter the actions and behaviors resulting in those specific negative outcomes.

If your teen is struggling with out-of-control behavior, substance abuse concerns, or mental wellness issues, you may find that a therapeutic boarding school can provide the answers that your family needs. Treatment programs customized to meet the needs of the individual offer more success than generalized therapeutic options. A residential treatment center can give your teen the secure, safe, and comfortable space needed to address mental health issues. Through focused treatments and the behavior modification solution that meets his mental wellness needs, your teen is more likely to find himself back on a positive path with a positive mindset.

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