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How to Use Behavior Modification Therapy

When an adolescent or teen struggles with mental health issues and behavioral concerns, it impacts the entire family. The family must heal for the individual to fully recover, making family therapy a critical part of comprehensive mental healthcare for adolescents and teens. Behavior modification therapy is a significant component of individual and family therapy programs at Beyond Healthcare. Parents and caregivers who learn to implement behavior modification techniques at home become active participants in their adolescent’s treatment. Further, using behavior modification at home reinforces what they learn in therapy.

Through family therapy and behavior modification therapy at Beyond Healthcare, you will find the care and support needed to heal and repair relationships while learning to manage and modify your adolescent’s behavior. Call 833.698.0453 to learn more about the benefits of behavior modification therapy for your adolescent and family.

What Is Behavior Modification Therapy?

As the name suggests, behavior modification therapy involves changing how a person behaves. The principles of behavior modification utilize the work of B.F. Skinner and his theory of operant conditioning. Operant conditioning essentially proposes that if a behavior is reinforced, it will continue, and if ignored, it will gradually fade into non-existence.

Behavior modification therapy is an evidence-based approach, meaning that it has proven effective for a variety of mental health disorders, including but not limited to:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Substance use disorders
  • Developmental disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorders and self-harm

According to behavior modification, desirable behaviors should lead to positive consequences, and undesirable behaviors should lead to negative consequences. The focus is not on the cause of behavior but on modifying the environment so that your adolescent has more incentive to change their behavior. Positive punishment, negative punishment, positive reinforcement, and negative reinforcement are the four main components of behavior modification therapy.

Behavior Modification Techniques

Consistency is the key to effective behavior modification therapy. As with all treatment, behavior modification needs to meet each individual’s needs and circumstances. What works as an incentive for one adolescent may not work for another. In behavior modification therapy, positive and negative mean adding something or taking something away. Following is a closer look at the four components of behavior modification therapy:

Positive Punishment

Positive punishment involves using a negative consequence for undesirable behavior. In other words, positive punishment means adding a consequence to deter the behavior. Examples of positive punishment include giving your adolescent extra chores for breaking curfew or suffering the natural consequence of receiving a bad grade after not studying for a test.

Negative Punishment

Negative punishment involves taking something away or removing positive attention in response to unwanted behavior. Examples of negative punishment include taking away your teen’s phone if they didn’t do their chores or ignoring a temper tantrum.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is often the most effective because it is the most pleasant. It uses praise and rewards for desired behavior. An example is giving your adolescent a later curfew because they made the honor roll. Positive reinforcers need to be varied because they lose their value over time.

Negative Reinforcement

Negative reinforcement does not involve doing anything negative. It occurs when a person changes their behavior to avoid an unpleasant consequence. For example, say your adolescent is getting into fights at the bus stop, so you start waiting for the bus with them. Your adolescent stops getting into fights to avoid having you wait with them (the negative reinforcement).

How Family Therapy Helps with Behavior Modification

Through family therapy at Beyond Healthcare, you can work with our experienced professionals to set realistic and measurable goals for behavior modification. You will learn about the ABCs (antecedent, behavior, consequence) of behavior modification and how to identify them. Your family therapist will work with you and your adolescent to ensure that everyone understands the expectations and appropriate punishments and reinforcements. In addition to family therapy, we offer:

  • Assessment and diagnosis
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Case management and care coordination
  • Telehealth services
  • Medication management
  • Community connections

At Beyond Healthcare, our commitment to adolescents, teens, and families does not end when you meet treatment goals. We have a vibrant and active alumni program to help you stay connected to our supportive community for as long as you want.

Reach Out to Beyond Healthcare for Behavior Modification Therapy and More

Beyond Healthcare is committed to providing comprehensive mental health treatment to adolescents and teens ages 11-17 and their families. Reach out to us to learn more about behavior modification therapy and more. Contact us at 833.698.0453 to schedule an appointment today.