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Also known as cognitive behavior therapy, behavior modification therapy is used to try and reduce the abnormal behavior patterns of a particular individual. This is done using certain techniques and strategies aimed at modifying behavior, in order to make the subject act in a positive fashion when faced with particular environmental stimuli. These techniques involve both negative and positive reinforcement to bring about this change. So, now lets look at the process more closely.


This type of therapy has a direct approach to treatment. The problems are addressed as soon as possible, as opposed to traditional therapy which would involve prior identification of the causes of the abnormal behavior. Remedies would then be suggested. The problem with this approach is that it allows the abnormal behavior to continue until the cause is entirely certain. Behavioral modification therapy, however, subscribes to the theory that the treatment will lead to a resolving of the causes.

The therapy itself has three stages; observing, identifying the cause and elimination of the cause. It also aims to encourage positive behavior.


Children and teenagers are often more receptive to the treatment than adults. This is because the makeup of their psyche is more malleable and thus easier to change. They are still forming their own identity, so if their behavior is examined and changed at this stage, it can have long-lasting positive effects. The therapy can be used with success on those with eating, conduct, anxiety and attention deficit disorders (ADD).This therapy can also have positive results for patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This condition normally manifests initially in childhood and results in difficulties with focus or paying attention. ADHD sufferers can have trouble with self-control and as the name suggests, are usually quite hyperactive.

One tenet of behavior modification therapy is positive reinforcement. Parents or guardians of the subject are encouraged to give positive feedback for behavior that is seen as appropriate. Simultaneously, negative reinforcement is advised in order to combat negative behavior. This may involve a "time out" process, where the subject is physically removed from the situation that has lead to the negative behavior. Thus, a process of positive reaction to good behavior and a minimizing of negative situations is initiated. Effectively, the subject is being taught the values of right and wrong.

Choosing the right therapist is vital with regard to this kind of therapy. Each individual therapist may have their own techniques; thus, asking the therapist about his or her techniques may be a way that patients or guardians of patients can discern whether or not that particular therapist will be suitable.

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