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  1. #1
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    Default Behaviour Modification

    Adnan is a clinical psychologist in Ganga Ram hospital Lahore. He is also teaching psychology to MSC, 4th semester. The current lecture going on is about different techniques of different paradigms. He gave an assignment to his students to search the different behavioral techniques used in psychotherapy.
    Assume some of his students come to you for help and asks you the following questions:
    What are the different behavioral techniques, name any five?
    What is the rational behind these techniques?
    What is the procedure, merits and demerits of each technique?

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    Default Solution/Answer

    The following are five behavioral techniques;
    (a) Systematic Desensitization (b) Shaping (c) Grandma’s Rule (d) Token Economies (e) Time Out
    The rational behind these techniques: Behavioral techniques are based on an educational model. Behavioral techniques based on the scientifically supported assumption that most emotional and behavioral reactions are learned. Therefore, the goal of these techniques is to help clients unlearn their unwanted reactions and to learn a new way of reacting. Therefore, behavioral techniques have nothing to do with "just talking". People can "just talk" with anyone. The educational emphasis of behavioral techniques has an additional benefit -- it leads to long term results. When people understand how and why they are doing well, they know what to do to continue doing well. Behavior therapy or behavior modification, in psychology, is the treatment of human behavioral disorders through the reinforcement of acceptable behavior and suppression of undesirable behavior. The technique had its roots in the work of Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist who observed that animals could be taught to respond to stimuli that might otherwise have no effect on them. B. F. Skinner developed the technique in the United States, using positive or negative rein forcers to encourage desirable behavior and punishments to discourage undesirable behavior. Behavior therapists believe that, in many cases, behaviors can be learned or unlearned through basic conditioning techniques; unlike traditional psychoanalysis, the method has little regard for the unconscious processes underlying personality disorders. Behavior therapy uses such techniques as aversive conditioning, where unwanted habits are paired with unpleasant stimuli, and systematic desensitization, where a stimulus that causes anxiety is paired with a pleasant one.
    (a) Procedure of Systematic Desensitization: Systematic desensitization is a technique used to treat phobias and other extreme or erroneous fears based on principles of behavior modification. Systematic desensitization is used to help the client cope with phobias and other fears, and to induce relaxation. In progressive relaxation, one first tightens and then relaxes various muscle groups in the body. During the alternating clenching and relaxing, the client should be focusing on the contrast between the initial tension and the subsequent feelings of relaxation and softening that develop once the tightened muscles are released. After discovering how muscles feel when they are deeply relaxed, repeated practice enables a person to recreate the relaxed sensation intentionally in a variety of situations. After learning relaxation skills, the client and therapist create an "anxiety hierarchy." The hierarchy is a catalogue of anxiety-provoking situations or stimuli arranged in order from least to most distressing. For a person who is frightened by snakes, the anxiety hierarchy might start with seeing a picture of a snake, eventually move to viewing a caged snake from a distance, and culminate in actually handling a snake. With the therapist's support and assistance, the client proceeds through the anxiety hierarchy, responding to the presentation of each fearful image or act by producing the state of relaxation. The person undergoing treatment stays with each step until a relaxed state is reliably produced when faced with each item. As tolerance develops for each identified item in the series, the client moves on to the next. In facing more menacing situations progressively, and developing a consistent pairing of relaxation with the feared object, relaxation rather than anxiety becomes associated with the source of their anxiety. Thus, a gradual desensitization occurs, with relaxation replacing alarm. Several means of confronting the feared situations can be used. Specific phobias are one class of mental illness often treated through the behavior therapy or cognitive-behavioral process of systematic desensitization. When individuals possess irrational fears of an object, such as height, dogs, snakes, and close spaces, they tend to avoid it. Since escaping from the phobic object reduces their anxiety, patients’ behavior to reduce fear is reinforced through negative reinforcement, a concept defined in operant conditioning. The goal of Systematic Desensitization is to overcome this avoidance pattern by gradually exposing patients to the phobic object until it can be tolerated. This will be challenging for the patient at first to deal with the fear, but gradually, most will overcome this fear. In classical and operant conditioning terms the elicitation of the fear response is extinguished to the stimulus (or class of stimuli).
    Merit and Demerit: Research has shown that systematic desensitization can be effective for any phobia, with the following considerations: Systematic desensitization is more effective for Specific Phobias than for disorders involving “free-floating” anxiety, such as Social Phobia or Agoraphobia. Successful outcome of systematic desensitization is more likely when skill deficits are not causing the anxiety. That is, if you develop anxiety about taking exams in school, and if you have a tendency not to study or do your homework, your anxiety is probably the result of not knowing the material; systematic desensitization may not be of much help in such a case. But if you know the material “backwards and forwards” and develop anxiety, then systematic desensitization might be used to desensitize you to performance fears. The effectiveness of systematic desensitization does not appear to depend on the intensity of your anxiety, the duration of your anxiety, or on whether the anxiety was acquired suddenly or gradually. Some evidence suggests that systematic desensitization may not be as effective in treating anxieties that could have an underlying evolutionary survival component—such as fear of the dark, fear of heights, or fear of dangerous animals—as in treating phobias that have been acquired from personal experience. Systematic Desensitization is ineffective in psychosis disorders.

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    (b) Procedure of Shaping: shaping is a conditioning procedure used primarily in the experimental analysis of behavior. It was introduced by B.F. Skinner with pigeons and extended to dogs, dolphins, humans and other species. In shaping, the form of an existing response is gradually changed across successive trials towards a desired target behavior using differential reinforcement. The successive approximations reinforced are increasingly accurate approximations of a response desired by a trainer. As training progresses the trainer stops reinforcing the less accurate approximations. For example, in training a rat to press a lever, the following successive approximations might be reinforced.
    Simply turning toward the lever will be reinforced
    Only stepping toward the lever will be reinforced
    Only moving to within a specified distance from the lever will be reinforced
    Only touching the lever with any part of the body, such as the nose, will be reinforced
    Only touching the lever with a specified paw will be reinforced
    Only depressing the lever partially with the specified paw will be reinforced
    Only depressing the lever completely with the specified paw will be reinforced
    The trainer would start by reinforcing all behaviors in the first category, then restrict reinforcement to responses in the second category, and then progressively restrict reinforcement to each successive, more accurate approximation. As training progresses, the response reinforced becomes progressively more like the desired behavior.
    Merit and Demerit: Shaping is most effective for increasing positive behavior. The first step, after defining the behavioral objective, is to assess the present level of the student’s skills. Next, set goals and break the goals into steps. As each step is achieved, the behavior is “shaped. Positive reinforcement is used for each step toward the desired behavior. This comes in the form of praise and recognition (note the absence of tangible/edible rein forcers. The biggest advantage of shaping is that it “focuses your attention and the student’s attention on positive behavior. It recognizes progress and helps the student feel good about him. It creates the opportunity for positive interaction between the student and the teacher. Because a large amount of research in shaping behavior was done with animals, as opposed to human subjects, many people discount the findings of Skinner, Pavlov. They quickly dismiss the idea that humans are just like animals and that humans cannot make conscious decisions. To believe that every person would react in the same manner, given a similar set of circumstances is incomprehensible to opponents.
    (c) The Procedure of Token Economies: A token economy is a form of behavior modification designed to increase desirable behavior and decrease undesirable behavior with the use of tokens. Individuals receive tokens immediately after displaying desirable behavior. The tokens are collected and later exchanged for a meaningful object or privilege. A token economy involves awarding tokens, chips, stickers, check marks, points, or other items/markings to students who demonstrate desired behaviors identified by the teacher. Students may periodically exchange the tokens for rewards, which are items or activities desirable to them. It is often compared to a national economic system in which we work for money, which has no value in and of itself, and later exchange it for items and activities that are valuable to us. There are three steps in implementing a token economy in the classroom. The first step is to describe the disruptive behavior to be changed. These disruptive behaviors can be in a variety of forms such as: motor behaviors, aggressive behaviors, verbal behaviors, and other inappropriate behaviors. The second step in implementing a token economy is to find a contingent stimulus that will effectively reinforce the target behaviors. These rewards can be one of three forms: social rewards, material rewards, or tokens that can be redeemed for material rewards. The final step is to implement the program clearly and consistently in order for it to be successful
    Merit and Demerit: Advantages of token economies are that behaviors can be rewarded immediately, rewards are the same for all members of a group, use of punishment (response cost) is less restrictive than other forms of punishment, and individuals can learn skills related to planning for the future. Disadvantages include considerable cost, effort, and extensive staff training and management. Some professionals find token economies to be time-consuming and impractical. Risks involved in token economies are similar to those in other forms of behavior modification. Staff members implementing the therapy may intentionally or unintentionally neglect the rights of individuals receiving treatment. Token economies should never deprive individuals of their basic needs, such as sufficient food, comfortable bedding, or reasonable opportunities for leisure. If staff members are inadequately trained or there is a shortage of staff, desirable behaviors may not be rewarded or undesirable behaviors may be inadvertently rewarded, resulting in an increase of negative behavior. Controversy exists regarding placing individuals in treatment against their will (such as in a psychiatric hospital), and deciding which behaviors should be considered desirable and which should be considered undesirable.
    (d) The procedure of Time Out: Use a small, portable kitchen timer.
    Choose a place for "time-out"; a chair in the hallway, kitchen or corner of a room. Pick a dull place where the child cannot view TV, play with toys or interact with other children. The aim is to remove the child to a place where not much is happening -not to frighten the child.
    The whole family should read and know the rules." Consistency is very important!
    Merit and Demerit: This has been effective in reducing such problem behavior as tantrums, hitting, biting, failure to follow directions, leaving the yard without permission and others. Adults have found that "time-out" works better than spanking, yelling or threatening the child. It is appropriate for children from 18 months through 10 years. Timeout is Most Effective when there is plenty of "Time In" The technique is recommended mostly for toddlers and upwards. It is not more effective for adults. Some times it also creates negative effects on the child performance. It would be unreasonable for them to stay in one place for as long as a child their age without FXS. Physical educators frequently use time-outs to address disciplinary problems. Experience with the time-out procedure, however, convinces many physical educators that this technique is either weak or ineffective. Like any teaching skill, this technique, to be utilized effectively, requires the physical educator to have an understanding of the underlying behavior principles and research.
    (e) The procedure of Grandma’s rule: It is the rule of “first you work and then you play”. It means that desired activates are affected by allowing the individual the Perivale of engaging in a more attractive behavior. For example a child is allowed to play bail after the music lesson is completed.
    Merit and Demerit: It is useful in certain satiations. It can be use in play therapy. It is not applicable for all persons.

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