The term functional analysis may seem a bit technical, but it really just means the study of our patterns of behaviour. In particular, we are interested in the way behaviours vary , what triggers them and what the consequences of these behaviours are . The point of functional analysis is to figure out if anything triggers a behaviour, and what rewards we get from them.

For example, if you go to a cafe and the food is good, you will probably go back. If it is bad , you will not return . If you go back to the good cafe , you will be rewarded by good food and an enjoyable experience. In this case your visits to the cafe will be positively reinforced if you avoid the bad cafe, you will not have to experience poor food and your avoidance will be negatively reinforced . In both cases , the consequences of your behaviour make it more likely that you will repeat the same behaviour: in the case of the good cafe , you go more often, in the case of the bad cafe , you avoid it.

In the above example, the function of the behaviour is either to increase the chances of having a positive experience or to decrease the chances of a negative one. Although the example of the cafe is an obvious one, many of the reasons we do or we do not do things will be far less obvious. Reinforcement happens all around us, all of the time. Most of the time , we are not even aware of it. When you are depressed you may find yourself repeating the same behaviours over and over again without realising how those behaviours are affecting your mood . You may not realise what triggers the behaviours either, or what reinforces them. They become habits .

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