Chapter 1

Chapter 8
Behavioral Therapy
Behavioral Therapy
Formulated at the beginning of the 20th
Focused on how to reinforce, extinguish, or
modify a broad range of behaviors.
In its infancy (1900’s-1930’s), behaviorism
was concerned almost entirely with outward
John B. Watson
The first major advocate of behaviorism.
Worked with a child named Little Albert to
demonstrate that human emotions are
amenable to being conditioned.
Behaviorism in the 1950’s-1960’s
B.F.Skinner (1953) – operant conditioning.
Joseph Wolpe (1958) – study of respondent
(i.e., classical) conditioning.
Hans Eysenck (1960) – treatment of
abnormal behavior.
Albert Bandura (1963) – effects of vicarious
John Krumboltz (1966)
Credited as one of the major personalities to
popularize behaviorism in counseling.
Drew upon Bandura’s earlier work and in
doing so revolutionized the counseling
Categories of Behaviorism
By the 1980’s, behavioral approaches to
therapy had split into 3 main categories:
– Stimulus-response model
– Applied behavior analysis
– Social-cognitive theory
B. F. Skinner
 Born in 1904 in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania
 Wanting to be a writer, he moved to Greenwich
Village to to live among writers where he
discovered the works of Ivan Pavlov, John B.
Watson, Bertrand Russell, and Francis Bacon.
 Soon, he gave up his writings to become a
 Classified as a behavioral determinist
View of Human Nature/Personality
Assumes that all behavior is learned –
whether adaptive or maladaptive.
Believes that learning can be effective in
changing maladaptive behavior or acquiring
new behavior.
Rejects the idea that the human personality
is composed of traits.
Stimulus-Response Model
The application of classical conditioning –
sometimes called respondent learning or the
S-R Model.
Learning occurs through the association of
two stimuli, also known as the conditioning
of involuntary responses.
Similarly, many human emotions, such as
phobias, arise from paired associations.
After WWII, behaviorist researcher Mary
Cover Jones demonstrated a process known
as counter-conditioning that was shown to
help people overcome phobic reactions.
Once these phobias are learned, new paired
associations can be learned to take the place
of the phobic reactions.
Applied Behavior Analysis
 Focuses on how individuals operate in the
 A person is rewarded or punished for actions, thereby
learning to discriminate between behaviors.
 When a behavior is followed closely by a reinforcer,
chances increase that the behavior will recur in similar
 The successor to operant conditioning, where a person
must be involved as an active participant with the
environment for learning to occur.
Social Cognitive Behavior
 People acquire new knowledge and behavior by
observing other people
– without engaging in the behavior themselves.
– without any direct consequences to themselves.
 Depends on the theory that behavior is based on three
separate but interacting regulatory systems:
– External stimulus events
– External reinforcement
– Cognitive mediational processes
 Learning may occur independently of reinforcement.
Roles of the Counselor/Therapist
 Assist the client in learning new, appropriate ways of
acting or to modify or eliminate excessive actions.
 Active in counseling sessions and functions as a
learning specialist for the client.
 S-R or applied-oriented counselors are direct and
prescriptive in offering assistance.
 Social cognitive learning oriented counselors serve as
 For diagnosis, they describe clients according to the
behaviors they display.
 Focus on changing, modifying, or eliminating
 Set up well-defined therapy goals with clients.
 Focus on acquiring healthy, constructive ways
of acting.
4 Steps to Mutually Agreed on Goals
(Blackham & Silberman, 1979)
Define the problem.
Take a developmental history.
Establish specific goals.
Determine the best methods for change.
Process and Techniques
Behavioral therapy is a process.
Concentrate on the “here and now” as
opposed to the “there and then” of behavior.
Behavioral techniques stress the importance
of obtaining empirical evidence and
scientific support for any technique they
General Behavioral Techniques
Use of Reinforcers
 Schedules of Reinforcement
 Shaping
 Generalization
 Maintenance
 Extinction
 Punishment
Use of Reinforcers
Events that, when they follow a behavior,
increase the probability of the behavior’s
 May be either positive or negative.
– Positive – considered pleasurable .
– Negative – removal of an aversive stimulus.
There are no universal positive reinforcers.
Schedules of Reinforcement
Continuous reinforcement – reinforcement every time
the behavior occurs.
– Best reinforcement schedule for when a behavior is first
being learned.
Intermittent reinforcement – reinforcement on an
intermittent or inconsistent basis.
Schedules of reinforcement operate according to either
the number of responses (ratio) or the length of time
(interval) between reinforcers.
Both ratio and interval schedules are either fixed or
Behavior learned gradually in steps through
successive approximation.
May break down behavior into manageable
The display of behaviors in environments
outside where they were originally learned.
Indicates that transference into another setting
has occurred.
Being consistent in doing the actions desired
without depending on anyone else for support.
Accomplished through:
– Self-observation
– Self-recording
Self-monitoring increases client awareness of
Extinction and Punishment
Extinction - The elimination of a behavior
because of a withdrawal of its
 Punishment – presenting an aversive
stimulus to a situation to suppress or
eliminate a behavior.
– Usually behaviorists do not use punishment.
Specific Behavioral Techniques
Behavioral Rehearsal
Environmental Planning
Systematic Desensitization
Assertiveness Training
Contingency Contracts
Implosive Therapy
Aversive Techniques
Covert Sensitization
Behavioral Rehearsal
Practicing a desired behavior until it is
performed the way a client wishes.
 Process consists of gradually shaping a
behavior and getting corrective feedback.
 Sometimes called role-playing because the
client is practicing a new role.
Environmental Planning
Setting up part of the environment to
promote or limit certain behaviors.
– Ex. planning a daily schedule to avoid a
specific setting and avoid painful memories
of a certain place.
Systematic Desensitization
Designed to help clients overcome anxiety
in particular situations.
 Reciprocal inhibition – a phenomenon
based on the idea that people cannot feel
anxious and relaxed at the same time.
Assertiveness Training
A person should feel free to express
thoughts and feelings appropriately without
feeling undue anxiety.
 Counterconditioning anxiety and
reinforcing assertiveness.
Contingency Contracts
Contingency contracts spell out the
– The behaviors to be performed, changed, or
– Rewards associated with achievement of these
– Conditions under which rewards are to be
Implosive Therapy
Desensitizing clients to a situation by
having them imagine an anxiety-producing
situation that may have dire consequences.
– Clients are not taught to relax first.
– Should not be used by beginning counselors or
with clients who have heart conditions.
The imagined anxiety-producing scene does
not have dire consequences.
 Instead, clients are just overwhelmed with
images of these anxiety-producing stimuli.
Aversive Techniques
Useful when one behavior must be
eliminated before another can be taught.
– Time-out
– Over-correction
Covert Sensitization
Undesired behavior is eliminated by
associating it with unpleasantness.
– Used with clients who have problems with
smoking, obesity, substance abuse, and sexual
Aversive Stimuli and
In the long run, aversive stimuli are usually not
effective by themselves for three reasons:
– Their negative emotional effects soon disappear.
– They may interfere with the learning of desired
– They may encourage the client to try to escape,
which when successful, becomes a positive
Furthermore, ethical and legal concerns are
associated with aversive techniques.
Multicultural and Gender
Sensitive Issues
– May help clients be more specific about what they want
to do within their subculture and larger cultural groups.
– Counselors must become even more attuned to culture-
specific behaviors and how to address them
Terms and techniques are free of reference to
Strengths and Contributions
Works well with clients who are predominantly goal- and
action-oriented with a need for achievement and results.
 Good with clients who are interested in changing either a
discrete response or a limited number of behaviors.
 Deals directly with symptoms.
 Appropriate for a number of disorders.
 Focuses on the here and now.
 Variety of techniques available.
 Based on learning theory.
 Supported by exceptional research.
 Popular in institutional settings.
Limitations and Criticisms
Does not deal well with the total person, just
explicit behavior(s).
Sometimes applied mechanically.
Best demonstrated under controlled conditions
that are difficult to replicate.
Techniques may be ahead of the theory.
Ignores clients’ past histories and unconscious
Does not consider developmental stages.
Critics of Behavior Therapy
Critics charge that behaviorists:
– Program clients toward minimum or tolerable
levels of behaving.
– Reinforce conformity.
– Stifle creativity.
– Ignore client needs for self-fulfillment, selfactualization, and feelings of self-worth.
The Case of Linda:
Behavioral Therapy
How would you conceptualize this case using
behavioral therapy?
What would be your treatment plan for this client
using a behavioral approach?