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Behavior Therapy: Basic Concepts, Assessment Methods, And Applications

2919 words - 12 pages

Behavior Therapy: Basic Concepts, Assessment Methods, and Applications.

Different kinds of psychotherapies have existed throughout history, and have always been rooted in philosophical views of human nature (Wachtel P., 1997). Specifically, behavior therapy intents to help individuals overcome difficulties in nearly any aspect of human experience (Thorpe G. & Olson S., 1990). The techniques of behavior therapy have been applied to education, the workplace, consumer activities, and even sports, but behavior therapy in clinical settings is largely concerned with the assessment of mental health problems. In general, behavior therapy is a type of psychotherapy that aims on changing ...view middle of the document...

Erwin E. (1978), instead of proposing a specific definition for behavior therapy, he referred to some basic and important characteristics that this therapy possesses. According to Erwin, behavior therapy is used largely to lessen human suffering or to improve human functioning. He pointed out that it is a psychological rather than a biological form of treatment. In the cases of phobias treatment, behavior therapy is usually applied to treat the symptoms directly. Moreover, behavior therapy is characteristically used to modify maladaptive behavior or to teach adaptive behavior. This means that the focus is on individuals’ behavior. In some cases, behavior therapy techniques may even be used to reduce unwanted mental states as in Davinson’s (1968) use of counterconditioning to reduce sadistic fantasy, simply because the mental state itself is unwanted (as stated in Erwin, 1978). Another basic characteristic of behavior therapy is that it is often used in an incremental rather than a holistic fashion. Problems that are to be treated are first divided into their components and each component is treated separately. Last, behavior therapy is studied and used experimentally, being closely related to learning theory research.
Three main approaches in contemporary behavior therapy have been identified (Corsini R. et al, 2008).
These are the applied behavior analysis (ABA), the neobehavioristic meditational stimulus-response model, and the social cognitive theory. ABA refers to the application of the principles of learning and motivation from Behavior Analysis (the scientific study of behavior), and the procedures and technology derived from those principles, to the solution of problems of social significance. This approach is based on Skinner’s radical behaviorism. It identifies behaviors that should be extinguished and behaviors that are to be taught. It makes use of reinforcement, punishment, extinction, stimulus control, and other procedures derived from laboratory research (Corsini R. et al, 2008). It is most frequently applied to children with autistic spectrum disorders, but is an effective tool for children with behavioral disorders, multiple disabilities, and severe intellectual handicaps.
The neobehavioristic meditational stimulus-response (S-R) model features the applications of the principles of classical conditioning, and it derives from the learning theories of Ivan Pavlov, E. Guthrie, lark Hull, O. Mowrer, and N. Miller (as cited in Corsini et al, 2008). The S-R model has been linked to systematic desensitization and flooding. Systematic desensitization was developed by Joseph Wolpe (1958). It is a therapy for phobias based on counterconditioning -a technique for eliminating a conditioned response that involves pairing a conditioned stimulus with another unconditioned stimulus to condition a new response. If the new response in incompatible with the old response, so that only one response can occur at a time, then the new response...

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