Behavior Modification Techniques

November 28, 2012
A smiling man talking to a student in his office.

Behavior modification is a complex term that has different meanings for different professionals. For some, it refers to techniques that are coercive or intended to create pain. CPI strongly opposes treatment modalities that adversely affect a person’s Care, Welfare, Safety, and Security℠ and does not teach behavior modification. Rather, we teach safe, noninvasive, and nonharmful behavior management skills for crisis prevention and intervention. Our training is entrenched in helping you positively interact with and support the individuals in your care.

As such, if you’re looking for safe strategies that won't cause harm and that will effectively prevent and stop difficult behavior, we can help you center your care on positive techniques that ensure safety for yourself, your staff, and the individuals you support.

4 Strategies for Promoting Positive Change
Behavior management skills that are positive and not punitive involve viewing not the person as a problem, but the environment and the skill deficiencies as factors that require change. The goal is not to modify the person, but to modify the setting, to personalize your approach, and to help the person build skills and relationships. Here are four strategies for effecting positive change.

  1. Be Mindful of Your Own Behavior.
    One vital aspect of crisis intervention to keep in mind is that while you cannot change an individual’s behavior, you can modify your own approach, as your behavior affects the individual’s behavior and vice versa. How you react in a situation influences the behaviors and events that follow.
  2. Remember That Behavior Is Communication.
    Another important consideration is that behavior is communication. With any behavior, an individual wants to be understood, to be treated with respect, and to satisfy her needs. When you understand the underlying causes of difficult behaviors and empower an individual with the choice of replacing problem behaviors with positive behaviors that meet the same needs, you’re better able to guide her toward expressing herself in a positive way.
  3. Adapt the Environment.
    A key to preventing difficult behavior is lessening or eliminating the environmental triggers that cause an individual to feel anxiety. Whether the individual is a student in a classroom, a patient in a hospital, or a client in a residential setting, help him organize and modify his environment in a way that works for him. Making caring and respectful modifications to the factors that cause him to act out is an essential part of developing a safe behavior management program that supports positive conduct. For instance, if a person in your care is sensitive to fluorescent lights, meet his sensory needs with natural or incandescent light. If you have a student who feels anxious at the sound of loud or sudden noise, ask her if she would be more comfortable positioned away from the door or the hallway.
  4. Build Rapport.
    When you have strong relationships with the individuals in your care, you can get to the root of their behavior and help them make positive change. Very often, what needs modification is not the individual himself, but the factors that cause him to act out. Therefore, understanding the individual’s likes, needs, and wishes is central to creating an environment that is positive and maintains the person’s dignity. When you connect with someone with empathy and compassion, that person will feel respected—and his disruptive behavior will de-escalate as a result. He will respond positively when you show him that you care and that you know how to safely and respectfully guide him from chaos to calm.

The following articles contain a wealth of techniques for safely and effectively supporting positive behavior. Modification of the factors that cause difficult behavior is emphasized. Please note that while CPI does not endorse the external resources, we believe that they may be helpful to you in your efforts to empower individuals to express themselves in positive ways.

These resources, which focus on behavior management rather than behavior modification, are ranked alphabetically.

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