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consequent behavioursin psychological behavior

The constant daily stresses have made her pull away from coworkers, family and friends. Just yesterday, the area manager popped in for a surprise visit and yelled at Violet for not having the napkin area fully supplied.

Behavioral psychology lends itself well to the counseling profession, because behavioral-modification techniques can be used to help clients overcome unwanted habits or actions and develop positive and productive behaviors. You might choose to specialize in one area of the field, such as educational, vocational, rehabilitation, mental health and family counseling. You may be interested in behavioral disorder and substance abuse counseling, which are the most closely related to behavioral psychology.

Behavioral psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on the study and alteration of people's behaviors, including their actions, emotions and thoughts. There are four recognized sub-disciplines of behavioral psychology: applied behavior analysis, behavior therapy, cognitive therapy and cognitive-behavior therapy. Techniques that may be applied include cognitive restructuring, behavioral modeling and, most commonly, classical and operant conditioning.

Both clinical psychologists and clinical counselors are typically required to earn licensure before practicing in the profession. Qualifications vary according to type of licensure (mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, behavioral disorder counselor and psychologist are a few examples), but they typically include education requirements, practical training and professional experience, and then you must pass one or more exams. Continuing education is also usually required to maintain a valid license.

Operant conditioning, on the other hand, is a technique that focuses on the association between voluntary behavior and consequence. In this conditioning situation, subjects are either punished or rewarded after an action so that behavior is associated with either a negative or positive consequence.

Traditional academic support plans are based on direct assessments, assessment of expected skills, and creating a link between assessment data and intervention (VanDerHeyden & Witt, 2008). Traditional behavioral and quality of life intervention plans often utilize a competing pathway analysis (O’Neill et al., 1997). Within this process, the summary statement of the function of the target behavior is expressed in terms of a) setting events, b) antecedent triggers, c) description of the target behavior(s), d) a description of the maintaining consequence for the problem behavior, e) a description of the desired behavior, f) a description of an alternative behavior that would lead to the same function as the problem behavior, and g) a description of the functional outcome for the desired behavior (e.g., improved grades). Interventions associated with competing pathway analysis address four major components (setting event supports, antecedent interventions, teaching new behaviors, consequence strategies), each of which is designed to lead to the desired behavior. The pathway process may be used to integrate academic, behavioral, and quality of life interventions.

Blood and Neel (2007) discussed the implementation of behavioral assessment and intervention. In their study, they found an instance in which 23 students had existing behavior intervention plans (BIPs) but did not have a functional assessment included in their file. BIPs not grounded in data may not be effective or may even cause harm (Filter & Horner, 2009; Ingram, Lewis-Palmer, & Sugai, 2005; Newcomer & Lewis, 2004). Additionally, the BIPs in the identified case study files included primarily a list of possible reinforcers, as well as a series of negative reactionary consequences for undesired behaviors (Blood & Neel, 2007). There was limited information about other intervention strategies, including prevention or teaching strategies.

Interventions at the tertiary level address multiple issues that have an impact on student success. For students who "cannot" perform an academic or behavioral skill due to a deficit, specific academic remediation or teaching of replacement behaviors (or in combination) may be required. For students who "will not" use adaptive academic or behavioral skills due to specific antecedent or consequence factors (e.g., function), an investigation is conducted to determine the reason for this motivation deficit (VanDerHeyden & Witt, 2008). Additional analysis may include an investigation into student and family quality of life (Turnbull et al., 2002).

For remediation of any skill (academic or behavior), treatments must include high-quality instruction. High-quality instruction a) focuses on critical, functional skills; b) uses explicit teaching; c) is carefully sequenced; c) emphasizes the use of conspicuous strategies; d) uses scaffolding to promote student success; e) utilizes prior knowledge; and f) provides regular opportunities for practice (Kame'enui & Carnine, 2002). Both academic and behavior intervention may involve mixed instructional methods, including one-on-one tutoring or small-group instruction, with a systematic instructional pedagogy (Institute for Education Sciences, 2009).

The traditional contingency management procedures discussed in the current tutorial have a long history of supportive research with many disability groups. Selected contingency management procedures have also been used effectively with some children with problematic behavior after TBI. However the review by Ylvisaker and colleagues demonstrated a strong shift from primary use of contingency management strategies in the 1980s to primary use of proactive antecedent-focused strategies in recent years. A possible explanation for this shift is the mounting evidence that damage to the undersides of the frontal lobes (common in TBI) creates inefficiency in learning from the consequences of behavior (Damasio, 1994; Rolls, 1998; Schlund, 2002). Contingency management procedures assume reasonable efficiency in learning from consequences. Therefore antecedent-focused procedures may have a neurological rationale for many children with TBI.

Effective management of consequences (contingencies) is important for all children, especially in a school context. Compliance and orderly behavior are critical in creating an effective learning environment. Following severe TBI, students may experience an extended period of time during which usual behavioral expectations have been suspended or reduced. For example, in a hospital, rehabilitation setting, or even in school, disruptive or resistive behaviors, particularly during the early recovery after TBI, may be tolerated more than in a typical school setting. In addition, the student may become accustomed to short work sessions and to controlling activities more than is allowed in school. For this reason, a consistent and well implemented behavior management system, including careful management of consequences, is particularly important when the student returns to school and resumes a normal school schedule.

Russell Barkley has frequently reviewed the research on behavioral interventions for students with ADHD (e.g., Pfiffner, Barkley, & DuPaul, 2006). Most of the interventions that have been studied with that population have been delivered within the framework of traditional contingency management (e.g., point systems, response-cost procedures, and the like). Barkley typically concludes that these procedures can be used to control behavior, but the contingencies (i.e., rewards and punishments) need to be more salient (i.e., powerful), consistent, and immediate than one might otherwise expect for a student of that age. Furthermore, maintenance of the treatment effect over time or transfer to other contexts is unlikely. This is another reason to explore the usefulness of proactive, antecedent-focused procedures.

Most forms of punishment, including both physical and emotional punishment, are prohibited by law or school policy. Furthermore, behavior management systems that rely on punishment are dangerous for many reasons. First, they focus attention on negative behavior which can paradoxically be reinforcing for some students (thereby increasing the frequency of negative behavior) and, for others, cause a deterioration in their fragile sense of self. Second, they fail to target the development of alternative positive behaviors. Finally, they create a generally negative school culture in which the avoidance of punishment is valued over attempts to engage in positive behavior.

Through modeling, observation, and then imitation, children develop new behaviors. Modeling can be as simple as having a child watch another child sharpen a pencil. By watching the model, a child can learn a new behavior, inhibit another behavior, or strengthen previously learned behavior (e.g. saying "thank you"). To use modeling effectively, you must determine whether a child has the capacity to observe and then imitate the model. In classroom settings, a student's response to modeling is influenced by three factors: 1) the characteristics of the model (e.g. is this a student whom the other students like and respect?), 2) the characteristics of the observer (e.g. is this child capable of observing and imitating the behavior), and 3) the positive or negative consequences associated with the behavior. Children are more likely to respond to teacher modeling when they view their teachers as competent, nurturing, supportive, fun, and interesting. Children are also more likely to imitate behavior that results in a positive consequence.

Negative reinforcement requires the child to work for the removal of an in-place, unpleasant consequence. The child's goal is to get rid of something that is unpleasant rather than to earn something that is desirable. In a negative reinforcement model, instead of working to earn a positive consequence, the child works to distance him- or herself from an aversive consequence. Negative reinforcement is often used in the classroom to manage problem behaviors. Teachers inadvertently pay attention to a child who may not be complying and withdraw their attention contingent on the child's compliance. Surprisingly, this strengthens rather than weakens the noncompliant behavior. The next time a similar situation occurs, the child again will not comply until confronted with the aversive consequence (i.e. the teacher's attention). Negative reinforcement is often seductive and coercive for teachers. It works in the short run but in the long run is likely to strengthen rather than weaken the undesirable behavior.

Children with ADHD may often be more interested in tasks other than those on which the teacher is focusing (Douglas, 1972). This leads to significantly more nonproductive activity and uneven, unpredictable classroom behavior. Interestingly, the overall rates of negative teacher-child interactions involving typical students are also higher in classrooms containing children with ADHD (Campbell, Endman, & Bernfeld, 1977). According to reports, teachers are more intense and controlling when interacting with children with ADHD. Within school settings, children with ADHD appear to experience negative consequences because of their temperament and a performance history that often involves beginning but not completing tasks. Many teachers in this circumstance unfortunately tend to focus on the misbehavior rather than on the reduction or termination of the behavior. This may further disrupt the classroom by disturbing other students.

The appropriate application of positive reinforcement has repeatedly been demonstrated to increase both on-task behavior and work completion (for reviews, see Barkley, 1990; DuPaul & Stoner, 1994; Goldstein, 1995; and Walker & Walker, 1991). In the early elementary school grades, teachers exhibit a significant degree of positive reinforcement for desired behaviors (White, 1975). That is, when a desired behavior is exhibited, teachers frequently respond with a consequence that is likely to increase the reoccurrence of that behavior. Jeremy's first-grade teacher offered frequent praise when he was sitting quietly in his seat.


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