Methods based upon changing the consequences of the observable      and measurable Behaviour of a symptomatic family member predominate the current Behavioural Family literature. The     symptomatic individual, usually a child, is viewed by the family as  the problem. A coalition is formed between parents and therapist and the therapist proceeds to  “target”  the misbehaviour. The frequency of  occurrence of the target behaviour is recorded for a period of time,  usually taken in the natural setting without further direct therapeutic interventions.This period is known as a “baseline” and is used to establish consensus on the degree of severity of  the problem, as well  as serve as a comparison with which to assess the effects of  later   programmed interventions. If the problem is one of  excess behaviour (for example, temper tantrums), techniques  including differential   reinforcement of other more acceptable behaviours (DRO) might be used, as well as systematically diminishing the inadvertent  reinforcement parents often give by excessive attention to the child   during a tantrum (extinction procedure).  If the problem is a deficit behaviour, positive reinforcement of  gradual steps toward achieving the final desired behaviour might be the preferred conditioning technique (shaping). Altering the consequences of behavior through      manipulation of the contingencies of reinforcement  extends beyond  the few examples mentioned above and may also be monitored by the therapist in the form of a verbal or written  contract. The “contingency contract” specifies the treatment plan in a precise and operational  manner  and has become  the most popular tool of the operant   conditioning family therapist. When the therapist views the family problem from a cognitive- behavioral model, he is most likely to apply techniques derived from classical conditioning.  Problems of  interpersonal relationships thought to be mediated by anxiety, faulty beliefs, or lack of self-assertion are usually treated individually, but changes in all family members  will invariably result if the behaviour of  one member is radically altered in a short period of time.The changes in maladaptive anxiety states or cognitions are altered by techniques such  as progressive desensitization, covert conditioning, cognitive restructuring,and assertive training (Craighead,  et al., 1976).

Focusing on the vicarious processes of  social learning presents      another behavioural perspective from which the family-oriented  therapist might proceed. The use of modeling, behavioural rehearsal, and guided participation for increasing  adaptive social skills has recently begun to occupy a more standard and systematic  set  of      techniques for applying to one or a number of family members. They   are applied alone or in addition to the operant conditioning and cognitive-behavioral techniques.


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