If you remember the movie “As Good as It Gets”, recall Jack Nicholson who played the character Melvin? He had a characteristic personality and was obsessed with many behavior patterns. He would open and shut a door a certain number of times, he would wash his hands every time he touched anything outdoors, he would use a new bar of soap every time, and so on. Remember the eerie feeling when the Patrick Bergin, in “Sleeping with the Enemy”, was obsessed about his wife’s lack of attention to detail! The characters Melvin and Patrick Bergin had what is called an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some people have an obsessive habit of cleaning; some have habitual gestures like stroking hair or touching nose while conversing; some are perfectionists and need everything to be in a certain place, etc.
We all have our odd habits and addictions, but when they become an obsession and begin to affect others, there is a reason to worry. There are various behavioral disorders that affect people today. They are innate in some people, while for others they develop over time, may be because of certain circumstances. Some of these disorders are Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and other addictions. In order to deal with them an effective technique called ‘behavior therapy’ is being used today. This practice is known as behavior modification therapy as well, since it involves modifying unfavorable behavior patterns with healthier options. Discussed further are some of the practices adopted in behavior therapy.
What Is Behavior Therapy
The first recognition and identification of “behavior therapy” came through a research study that was being conducted in 1953, by B.F. Skinner, Ogden Lindsley and Harry C. Solomon. Some of the other noteworthy researchers in the field of behavior therapy were done by Hans Eysenck and Joseph Wolpe. Apart from the critical disorders mentioned earlier, behavior therapy is also used to treat less critical illnesses such as insomnia, phobias, obesity and fatigue. For instance, when therapy is used to treat obesity, it begins with an understanding of the patient’s eating habits, activity patterns and lifestyle. Through this information, the therapist is able to find solutions to enable the patient to lose weight, inculcate healthier eating habits, indulge in exercise and gain positive self-confidence.
Behavior Therapy Techniques
Some of the techniques used in behavior therapy are relaxation methods, environment modification, systematic desensitization and assertiveness training. Other common methods utilized are social skills training, observational learning, modeling, behavior modification, habit reversal training, positive reinforcement, flooding, conditioning management and covert and operant conditioning. In order to control the patient’s behavior, the therapist could also use exposure and response prevention.
One of the exclusive ways of dealing with odd behavioral patterns is called paradoxical intention technique. Through this method, the patient is encouraged to continue his/her unfavorable behavior pattern. Based on research findings and therapists, this approach is said to quite successful in identifying and eliminating unwanted behavioral habits. While behavior therapy focuses mainly on transforming and getting rid of unnecessary behavior, there is another technique called cognitive therapy, which deals with the emotional and psychological reasons leading to undesirable behavior.