Behavior modification is a type of treatment which focuses on altering maladaptive behavior, to teach patients more adaptive behavior and to break bad habits. There are a number of applications for this treatment, and there are also a range of approaches to this type of treatment. It is a good idea to consult with several experts before pursuing behavior modification to determine whether or not it is appropriate for a patient, and to learn about different approaches to see if there is one which may be more suitable for a patient than another. This type of therapy is offered by a variety of mental health professionals.
In behavior modification sessions, patients are essentially trained out of maladaptive behavior. It can take numerous sessions, and the approach is usually tailored to the patient. Approaches can be as simple as time outs for a child who acts up in class, or as complex as biofeedback systems which are designed to get patients to stop chewing their nails. Some types of modification uses punishments of various forms, which has attracted criticism, as some people feel that punishment is not effective and can even be harmful.
Phobias, anxiety disorders, and bad habits can all be treated with this type of therapy. For example, a patient who is afraid of water might undergo systematic desensitization to remove the fear. Bad habits which can be treated with behavior modification can include nail biting, hair chewing, finger sucking, and a variety of other issues. This therapy can also be used to treat issues such as bedwetting or acting out.
Patients with developmental disabilities can sometimes benefit from sessions which teacher adaptive behavior so that they will feel more comfortable in society. Behavior modification is also used to treat conditions such as autism, providing patients with skills which will increase their level of functionality in society. Ongoing modification therapy can be used in both children and adults.
While the term “behavior modification” may sound a bit ominous, sessions are usually gentle. The practitioner does not want to create additional behavioral issues by approaching the patient aggressively or choosing a method of approach which is inappropriate to the patient. While some tactics in former eras may have been harsh or abusive, most practitioners today recognize that these methods of treatment are not effective and can be actively harmful, preferring the carrot to the stick when it comes to helping their patients.