How does a stressful environment affect health? Why do we remember some things and others we forget? How do some people overcome trauma while others struggle? Curiosity about these and other “big” questions attracted me to study psychology.
In university I was intrigued about various disorders and corresponding theories. While studying the different schools of thought, I gravitated towards behavioural psychology.
Studies in behavioural sciences (commonly called Applied Behaviour Analysis) provided a solid method of addressing such questions. I was excited to learn that by employing the scientific method and the basic principles of behaviour, strategies can be used to help improve people’s lives.
Extensive literature describes the important contributions that Applied Behaviour Analysis has made in rehabilitation, mental health, counseling, education, business and various other fields.
An appealing feature of behaviour therapy is that it is individually tailored to the specific strengths and deficits of the individual. By outlining a treatment goal a behaviour therapist can operationally define behaviours of concern. Then the therapist can conduct a functional analysis of behaviour and identifying possible triggers. This method increases the likelihood of a success.
Behaviour therapy is used successfully in the area of Acquired Brain Injury. The nature of brain injury can often bring about new and unwanted behaviours in an individual.Examples of these new behaviours can be: low initiation, memory loss, frustration, agitation, aggression, perseveration and impulsivity.
Often these behaviours will prevent progress in rehab.
For instance, if initiation is an issue for person with a brain injury, he may have difficulty completing a morning routine and attending therapy. Getting out of bed, having a shower or eating breakfast can be overwhelming. A behavioural approach to initiation may involve completing a task analysis, providing visual prompting and incorporating a known reinforcer.
In other words, breaking down the morning routine into small steps and posting it to the bedroom wall will help the person stay on task and serve as a reminder. A reinforcer could be a special breakfast food or tea while watching a favourite morning TV show. These small changes in the environment can help increase an individual’s ability to complete routines and thus attend therapy.
In future posts, I will explore specific behaviour change programs which have been used to promote rehabilitation. It is with great pleasure that I am now able to use my knowledge of Applied Behaviour Analysis to assist the clients of Galit Liffshiz & Associates reach their rehabilitation goals.
Submitted by : Jennifer Phyper BSc, BST, Behaviour Therapist