How to Use Behavior Modification Techniques

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Change your pet's behavior
Change your pet's behavior (Image: http://www.petstyle.com/free_pictures/picture.aspx?id=1827)

The whole point of behavior modification techniques is to change undesirable or harmful behaviors and replace them with healthier, more desirable ones. When applied properly, the technique can be effective in working with children, pets or any other sentient being. Substance abuse counselors, for example, often encourage clients to take ownership of their behaviors and change them using behavior modification techniques. Animal trainers frequently turn to behavior modification techniques to help pet owners turn bad habits into good habits. There are a variety of therapeutic techniques and procedures associated with behavior modification, so the technique is best used by specially trained, skilled practicioners. Still, the basic concepts and methods are pretty easy to understand.

Things You'll Need

  • Knowledge of the techniques
  • Advice of a skilled mental health professional

Read current textbooks, how-to manuals, and journal articles to gain a full understanding of behavior modification techniques and their application.

Identify the current behavioral problem in the context of the individual’s current environment. Behavior modification specialists do not dig into the past to bring about change.

Identify achievable behavioral goals in terms that will enable you to measure your success. You may need to approach the problem and make changes with a series of steps that will ultimately lead you to the desired behavior.

Design a program for behavioral change that includes both positive reinforcers (praise, the car keys) and negative reinforcers (time out, no wheels).

Encourage the subject of change to take an active role in and ownership of the process.

Tips & Warnings

  • When working to change the behavior of human subjects, work under the direction of a trained mental health professional.

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