Behavior Modification

PsycholoGenie Staff Sep 29, 2018
Behavior modification is a type of psychotherapy which aims at the alteration of behavior to a specific stimuli. Let's dive in to learn more about this therapy and its uses in 'ABC' approach method to obtain the desired results!
Behavior modification is a technique that aims at altering the behavior of an individual. It is a kind of reaction or response given to a particular situation or stimuli. This is a form of psychotherapy which deals with behavior analysis, identification of troubled responses, and addressing them by inducing rewards or punishment to alter or modify them.
It is part of philosophy which is known as behaviorism. For quite a long time, this therapy has been used knowingly or unknowingly by human kind to change or alter behavior. It is most common in a parent and child relationship. There is no specific philosophy to this approach as it is based on the simple basic principles of common human conduct.
It is a basic human tendency to seek rewards not necessarily to be monetary, and to avoid punishment. The very same tendency has been used as a base through which we can alter any unwarranted behavior of the subject. By offering reward or punishment, it aims at modification to the desired level while associating responses and stimuli.
As it is based solely on the involuntary reactions of the subject to the incidences and nowhere related with a planned conscious learning program, it is less effective in the applied perspective.
The therapy is further distinguished into two practices; one which offers rewards, while other one offering punishment. In modern times, the punishment part of therapy has been criticized by many. Nonetheless, it is highly effective. This feature has earned it the reputation of discipline technique in childhood.
Hence, it has been always a premiere therapy for parents and caretakers all over the world. Of course, it has its own flaws. If the punishment parameter is misused or over used, then it can lead to emotional disorders. It fails miserably if the subject tries to focus solely on escaping from the punishment rather than modifying his/her behavior.


Always try to endorse self-respect and self-belief in the subject. If one observes that the subject is doing something great, novel, then reward him/her for those deeds, without an undue word of flatter.
Create the incidences or opportunities, so that he/she can shoulder those responsibilities. However, if some thing goes wrong then be patient. For better results, patience holds the key. Be objective and try to understand the feelings of the subject and maintain a good rapport with him/her.


To make the therapy effective, all types of behavior under question are to be considered on a platform of functional assessment. The most significant method of functional assessment is 'ABC' approach which includes -
Antecedents: the thing which takes place before.
Behaviors: the exact nature.
Consequence: the thing which takes place after.
Once the observations are noticed and recorded, the data is analyzed to look for certain visible patterns. If there is a consistency in consequences following certain sets of antecedent, then specific efforts are made to alter the course of behavior using certain reward or punishment offer.
One should follow certain guidelines to get a better success ratio. Set up a program with careful planning, dedication, and lots of patience.

⋆ Try to erase the tensions present between you and subject and try to build a good rapport with him/her.
⋆ To start the therapy, you have to choose a specific behavior. Look for such conduct which has got the most negative impact and target it. While choosing the target, be realistic with the goals and don't go for unrealistic goals.

⋆ Set up rewards. Try to set up some tangible reward along with small rewards.
⋆ Be patient and use the option of time out to avoid giving any spontaneous response.

⋆ Be consistent with your offer of rewards as this will only motivate your subject to attain them.

⋆ Try to be diverse while offering rewards. This will only make things interesting for the subject.
Although, there are few people criticizing this therapy for its punishment parameter or individual-centered nature, it has proven of great help, especially in cases of children's behavior if applied with cognitive therapy.