Behavior modification first began being used in the 1920s to help deal with bad or negative behavior. It was later used by researchers and professionals specializing and studying behavior therapy. They took the theories behind behavior modification and combined it with cognitive behavior therapy. Cognitive behavior has to do with the brain and mind. Behavior modification therapy is now widely used as a means of dealing with and correcting negative behavior.
Behavior modification therapy is described as the use of either rewards or punishment as a means to correct or eliminate bad behavior in addition to teaching the subject new ways to respond to the stimuli in their environment. The goal of behavior modification therapy is to eliminate negative and abnormal behavior by reinforcing good and positive behavior at the same time.
Behavior modification therapy along with cognitive and medication therapy have been used successfully with patients with ADHD, ADD, Eating Disorders, Anxiety and Conduct Disorders. In order to be effective, behavior modification therapy is based on certain criteria and concepts.
The concepts are observing what happens before the negative behavior begins, what the negative behavior consists of and what happens after the negative behavior (consequences). In other words, behavior modification therapy needs to have specific stages such as observing, identifying and stopping the negative behavior. At the same time, correct and positive behavior must by developed, encouraged and maintained.
Behavior modification therapy consists of two types of reinforcements: positive reinforcements consisting of praise and rewards and negative reinforcement consisting of punishment. The positive reinforcement consists of replacing the bad behavior with rewards or treats. Negative reinforcement is punishment immediately following the negative behavior.
There has been much controversy regarding positive versus negative reinforcement. Most therapists believe more strongly in positive reinforcement feeling that negative consequences such as punishment only cause more negative feelings in the child or patient.
In order for behavior modification therapy to work on all subjects, the stages mentioned above must take place. Observing the bad behavior when it begins is crucial to eliminating it. In many instances, particularly with children, some stimuli bring on the negative behavior such as certain foods, other siblings or friends, being tired, etc. When these factors are identified and observed, a pattern can be found, making it easier to eliminate the negative behavior and find alternatives.
Behavior modification therapy is quite effective in helping teachers or healthcare providers deal with child that exhibit behavior issues. It is not only beneficial but necessary for all parties involved in the treatment to work together towards the common goal of solving the problem.