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:
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.
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.