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Behavior Modification

Behavioral therapies are closely related to Cognitive Behavioral Therapies. In behavioral work more attention is paid to behavior sequences than thoughts. Behavioral therapy can be used by individuals or families to change behavior sequences and outcomes. In behavioral therapy your counselor helps you reduce problematic behaviors and increase behaviors associated with preferred outcomes.

Behavior Modification at Choices Psychotherapy

Life is packed with situations or environments you can’t control. As you grow, there are a million different factors affecting who you are and how you behave. Different scenarios, hundreds of assorted people and a vastness of uncontrollable factors affect your behavior—for better or for worse.

Choices Psychotherapy is here to help you live the healthiest, happiest life you can. One way we can help you achieve such a life is through behavior modification. Because sometimes you may not be pleased with your behavior or the outcomes it produces, you may need a little help to resolve it.


Perhaps you’ve already identified where your behavior has gone awry or the negative consequences of your behavior that you’d like to change. Maybe you aren’t pleased with the outcomes your behavior produces, but you aren’t quite sure where the problem lies. Either way our highly experienced and considerate therapists can help clients on a path to a more content life through behavior modification.

What is behavior modification therapy?

Behavior modification is closely related to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in that it helps the client produce better outcomes in life. However, instead of focusing on negative thinking patterns or ideas, behavior modification focuses on sequences of behavior. Instead of thoughts leading to a specific outcome, this therapy aims to alter actions that lead to specific outcomes.


This type of therapy can be likened to techniques used in classrooms, workplaces or simply in your own home, e.g., positive or negative behavioral reinforcement. Behavior modification is an approach that, over time, may replace undesirable actions and behaviors with more desirable ones, thus leading to better results and outcomes within your life.


Behavior modification is based on the principles of behaviorist B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning. This means that, in essence, Skinner found that reinforced behavior tends to be repeated and behavior that isn’t reinforced tends to phase out. In this type of therapy, this means that desired behaviors and outcomes are reinforced after the fact, therefore encouraging repeat behavior.

How is behavior modification done? What are different techniques?

As mentioned before, there are two critical methods to behavioral modification: positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. And although you may have heard these terms before in relation to solving a child’s actions or choices, behavior modification is different. It isn’t a therapy to be used solely in the instance of a child throwing a tantrum or, in B.F. Skinner’s case, a lab rat in a box.


Behavior modification is for anyone looking to alter their behavior in exchange for more positive outcomes throughout their day-to-day life. Together our therapists and clients examine different stimuli that negative behaviors stem from.


Without acknowledging and understanding what “sets off” negative actions or behaviors, the more difficult, if not impossible, it will be to exchange negative behavior for positive behavior when confronted with that stimuli. Our therapists know how to dig deep and find your triggers so that we can work forward.


Before any type of reinforcement begins, it’s important to pinpoint the behavior you want to increase or decrease and what happens before and after that behavior. What situations cause it? Is the outcome one you’d like to continue or improve? Understanding your behavior often involves having to understand how you were raised, your environment, your personality or even your DNA.


Some different methods of behavior modification include:


Positive Reinforcement

This could come in several forms: praise, recognition or even a tangible “reward.” Positive reinforcement is a way for you and your therapist to reward an altered behavior that leads to a more positive outcome or stimulus. By rewarding a sequence of behaviors that lead to better results, you’ll be more apt to choose that sequence of behaviors without thinking about it.


Negative Reinforcement

Though this may sound like a punishment, it isn’t. As positive reinforcement is the addition of behaviors that lead to a desired outcome, negative reinforcement is the subtraction of behaviors in order to reach a desired outcome. For example, you may cut up your credit cards (behavior) to avoid getting into deeper debt (the removal of an undesired outcome or stimulus).


Ignore Negative Behavior (Extinction)

This technique is usually most effective when used by a group of people. This process includes ignoring a behavior that results in a negative outcome completely. As a behavior is continuously ignored, the impulse to continue that behavior is slowly extinguished. By changing your sequence of behavior, your outcome may change to a desired one.

Who can benefit from behavior modification?

Everyone may benefit from behavior modification—children to adults. This is a therapy that can also be done in individual or group settings. Our therapists always start client relationships by getting to know you and building a solid foundation of trust and comfort. You’ll never be rushed in and out as fast as possible at Choices Psychotherapy.


If you feel this may be the therapy for you, talk with us. Behavior modification therapy is a behavior-focused therapy, helping you add or extinguish behaviors to have the outcomes you desire. Ultimately, Choices wants to help you live a happy, healthy life. This could be your best solution to doing just that.