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THEORIES OF BEHAVIOURAL COUNSELLING

PROPONENTS/CONTRIBUTORS
Skinner (1904-1990): B. F. Skinner is considered by many authorities to have been
thegreatest behavioral psychologist of all time. Earlier behaviorism had been concerned
with stimulus-responseconnections. Skinner looked at the learning process in the
opposite way,investigating how learning was affected by stimuli presented after an act
wasperformed. He found that certain stimuli caused the organism to repeat an actmore
frequently. He called stimuli with this effect the "reinforcers". Watson found that by
providing reinforcement in a systematic way one couldshape the behavior in desired
directions. Link to operant
Teachers have benefited the most from Skinner's fundamental work inreinforcement as
a means of controlling and motivating student behavior. Itsvarious applications to
classroom practice are commonly called "behaviormodification", a technique that many
teachers consider to be one of theirmost valuable tools for improving both learning and
behavior of their students.(Charles)
Pavlov (1849-1936): Ivan P. Pavlov is Russia's most famous scientist. He first won
great distinction for his research on the physiology of the digestive system. Pavlov
encountered a methodological problem that was ultimately to prove more important and
more interesting than his physiological research. He had discovered "conditioning".
For Pavlov, all behavior was reflexive. But how do such behaviors differ from the
behavior commonly called "instinctive" ? Instinctive behavior is sometimes said to be
motivated. The animal has to be hungry, to be sexually aroused, or to have nest-building
hormones before these kinds of instinctive behavior can occur. But Pavlov concluded
that there seems to be nobasis for distinguishing between reflexes and what has
commonly been thought ofas non reflexive behavior. As a psychologist, Pavlov was
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concerned with thenervous system, and specifically the cerebral cortex, not with any
lawfulnessthat he might find in behavior.
At a more abstract level, Pavlov thought that all learning, whether ofelicited responses
in animals or of highly conceptual behaviors in humans, wasdue to the mechanisms of
classical conditioning. We now believe it to be wrong,but it is none the less one of the
great ideas of our culture. (Bolles)
Watson ( 1878-1958): John B. Watson was one of the most colorful personalities in
thehistory of psychology. Although he did not invent behaviorism, he became
widelyknown as its chief spokesman and protagonist.
Watson was brought up in the prevalent tradition: Mechanism explains behavior. In a
widely used textbook (Watson, 1914) he said that the study ofthe mind is the province
of philosophy; it is the realm of speculation andendless word games. The mind has no
place in psychology. A science ofpsychology must be based on objective phenomena
and the ultimate explanationmust be found in the central nervous system.
It was Watson, more than Pavlov or any other one person, who convincedpsychologists
that the real explanation of behavior lay in the nervous systemand that as soon as we
understood the brain a little better, most of themysteries would disappear. And, it was
mainly because of Watson that so manypsychologists came to believe that what they
called conditioning was soimportant. (Bolles)
THE MAJOR CONCEPTS
Behavioral counselling theory is a philosophy of psychology based on the proposition
that all things that organisms doincluding acting, thinking, and feelingcan and
should be regarded as behaviors, and that psychological disorders are best treated by
altering behavior patterns or modifying the environment. According to behavioral
counselling theory, individuals' response to different environmental stimuli shapes our
behaviors. Behaviorists believe behavior can be studied in a methodical and
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recognizable manner with no consideration of internal mental states. Thus, all behavior
can be clarified without the need to reflect on psychological mental states. The
behaviorist school of thought maintains that behaviors as such can be described
scientifically without recourse either to internal physiological events or to hypothetical
constructs such as the mind. Behavioral counselling theory comprises the position that
all theories should have observational correlates but that there are no philosophical
differences between publicly observable processes (such as actions) and privately
observable processes (such as thinking and feeling) Behavioural theories contrast
sharply with insight-oriented or Gestalt approaches. For one thing, counsellors holding
on to behavioural tenets are active when conducting sessions, compared to insight
therapies. Second, behavioural counsellors focus on changing clients behaviour rather
than exploring thoughts and feelings. Third, counsellors using the behavioural approach
work within a short frame time of sessions, with clear-cut goals to achieve in a defined
time limit. Whereas insight-oriented counsellors believe on thoughts and feelings,
behavioural counsellors focus on observable and measurable behaviour. They believe
that behaviour is learned, thus it can be changed. The focus of counselling and therapies
is often on changing the behaviour, thoughts and feelings in such a way that the change
can be observed and measure.

The goal of behavioural counselling is for the

counsellor and the client to mutually agree on counselling goals. Since behaviourists
focus on observable and measurable behaviour, the main emphasis in counselling would
be to see and observe a change in behaviour, and such desired change is documented in
a form of a contract. Goals are stated in terms of specific behaviour change that can be
measured and can be reasonably achieved by clients. In other words, the client will get
involved in deciding on what to change and how to change.

THEIR BASIC ASSUMPTION


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The behavioural approach is the assumption that behaviour is learned. Experience and
interactions with the environment make us what we are. This perspective has been
called environment determinism because it suggests that we are determined by the
environments in which we exist. The second assumption is that all behaviour can be
explained in terms of conditioning theory. Conditioning refers to changing behaviour in
the absorbable behaviour. The third main assumption is that we need to look no further
than the behaviours we can observe in order to understand and explain how humans and
non-humans animals operate. It is sufficient to be concerned only with external and
observable behaviour. A further assumption of the behaviour approach is that humans
and non- human animals are only qualitatively different. This is supported by the theory
of evolution which suggests that all animals have evolved from common ancestors and
are built from the same unit. Much behaviorist research is conducted with non-human
animals. It is important to recognize the contrasting perspectives within behaviourism;
The nice thing about Behavioral interventions is that they force practitioners to bring
some degree of science and objectivity to skill training.
Behavioral interventions keep us disciplined and focused on the objective aspects of the
learning process. Without it we can't really be sure about the effectiveness of our
interventions, or even the behaviors the interventions are supposed to affect. In short,
the value of incorporating behavioral philosophy into skills training is that it insulates
our interventions from subjective expectations that each of us carries with us.
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Relative To Psychotherapy, Behavioral counselling theory Tends To Concentrate


On Maladaptive Behavior Itself, Rather Than On Some Presumed Underlying
Cause Behavioral counselling theory is practical; it concerns itself with behaviors
that are incompatible with local community standards. Although there may be
causative factors that underlay the target behavior, (such as emotions like anxiety
or anger), behavioral counselling theory assumes they do not exist.

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Behavioral counselling theory Assumes That Maladaptive Behaviors Are, To A


Considerable Degree, Acquired Through Learning, The Same Way That Any
Behavior Is Learned. Behavioral counselling theory assumes that few behaviors
are not learned behavior, and strives to help clients "unlearn" them, or learn new
behaviors in their place.

3.

Behavioral counselling theory Assumes That Psychological Principles, Especially


Learning Principles, Can Be Extremely Effective In Modifying Maladaptive
Behavior. Behavioral counselling theory is often used as a training strategy for
the severely mentally handicapped, such as the mentally retarded, autistic or
mentally ill. Because the ability to learn is inherent in behavioral counselling
theory these populations are less likely to be lost to the "palliative care" excuse
for not supplying services. ("Don't waste your time. He can't learn -- he's
retarded.")

4. Behavioral counselling theory Involves Setting Specific, Clearly Defined


Treatment Goals. Behavioral counselling theory generates interventions based on
objective measurements of observed behaviors. Therefore clearly defined goals,
strategies and interventions are necessary order for interventions to maintain
objectivity and validity.
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The Behavior Therapist Adapts His Method Of Treatment To The Client's


Problem. One of the dangers inherent in behavioral counselling theory is the
tendency for practitioners to unwittingly develop a small number of "intervention
templates" that are slightly modified to meet the needs of different learners.
Practitioners must discipline themselves to remember that intervention plans are
individualized, and must adapt themselves to all aspects of the client.

6. Behavioral counselling theory Concentrates On The Here And Now. Behavioral


counselling theory is a pragmatic approach that is concerned only with how a
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behavior manifests itself in the present environment. Distant underlying causes


of behavior, or consequences that may manifest themselves far in the future, are
not relevant to behavioral counselling theory.
7. It Is Assumed That Any Techniques Subsumed Under The Label Behavioral
counselling theory Have Been Subjected To Empirical Test And Have Been
Found To Be Relatively Effective. Behavioral counselling theory has a
component of strategies and interventions that have proven to be effective in
laboratory conditions and have been endorsed as being effective and ethically
acceptable by academia and behavior mod organizations.
THE GOALS OF BEHAVIOURAL COUNSELLING
To encourage personal growth in clients by assisting them to be brave enough to
become aware of themselves, more genuine or real in their day-to-day
interaction.
To encourage clients to be responsible for their own experiences and actions
instead of blaming others for what they think, feel or do. In doing so, clients will
hopefully increase their inner strength and not rely too much on support from
others, although asking for help is not seen as a wrong thing.
To guide clients to develop skills and values that will allow them to meet their
needs without trespassing on the boundaries of others.
THE ROLE OF THE CLIENT
Clients have a role to:

provide complete information about ones illness/problem, to enable proper


evaluation and treatment

ask questions to ensure an understanding of the condition or problem

show respect to the counsellor and other patients


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reschedule/cancel an appointment so another person may see a counsellor

pay bills in a timely manner

use prescription or medical devices for oneself only

inform the practitioner(s) if ones condition worsens

provide requests for permission to release records in writing

ROLE OF THE COUNSELLOR


To help clients develop awareness and experience the present moment, or the
now.
To focus on the whole persons
To invite clients into actively experimenting with their attitudes toward life and
new behaviours. Through dialogues, the counsellor will guide and provide
catalyst for clients to try out new ways of behaving.

THEIR TECHNIQUES
This method of diagnosis emphasizes the surface level of organization culture-the pattern of behaviors that produce business results. It is among the more practical
approaches to culture diagnosis because it assesses key work behaviors that can be
observed. The behavioral approach provides specific descriptions about how tasks are
performed and how relationships are managed in an organization.
Cultural diagnosis derived from a behavioral approach can also be used to assess the
cultural risk of trying to implement organizational changes needed to support a new
strategy. Significant cultural risks result when changes that are highly important to
implementing a new strategy are incompatible with the existing patterns of behavior.
Knowledge of such risks can help managers determine whether implementation plans
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should be changed to manage around the existing culture, whether the culture should be
changed, or whether the strategy itself should be modified or abandoned.
The behaviourist approach to understanding abnormality is very reductionist because it
reduces explanations for behaviour to simple reward and punishment. While some
behaviours, such as the acquisition of phobias, can be explained this way, there are
many abnormal behaviours that seem to be passed on genetically, for example
alcoholism, autism, and schizophrenia, and so it is difficult to explain them solely in
terms of classical or operant conditioning. Similarly there are many disorders, for
example depression, that seem to feature abnormal levels of neurotransmitters and so a
biological explanation may be more sensible than a simple behaviourist one.
Behaviourism can explain the role of the media in the acquisition of certain abnormal
behaviours. Anorexia has long been linked with the 'perfect' body image as portrayed in
the media. People may learn to be anorexic through social learning by observing models
and actresses, reading about the diets they are on, and copying the behaviour they see.
Much of the research into classical and operant conditioning has been conducted on
animals. Aside from the possible ethical implications of animal research, there is also
the issue of generalising findings from one species and applying them to another.
Assumptions have to be made that at least some human physiology and psychology is
the same as animal physiology and psychology, but clearly humans are different to
animals. The behaviourist approach is extremely determinist because it states that a
behaviour that has been reinforced WILL be carried out, and one that has been punished
WILL NOT be carried out. However humans clearly have a degree of free will and are
able to decide when to carry out some behaviours and when to resist them. Cognitive
theories of behaviour try to account for free will and decision making, and so it may be
better to combine behaviourist and cognitive approaches when trying to explain
abnormal behaviour.
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COUNSELLING PROCEDURE
Psychological counsellors are increasingly faced with the challenges of multicultural
work. No therapy, however, can (or indeed should) be culturally neutral. Although it is
sometimes claimed that particular therapeutic frameworks are especially useful for
working with minority cultures (e.g. Van Deuzen-Smith 1988), it is evident that
psychological models of counselling have yet to seriously incorporate cross-cultural
dimensions. The attempt to develop a distinct Intercultural Therapy ( Kareem &
Littlewood 1992) has generated some interesting and useful insights but it is far from
offering an effective framework to displace the more familiar forms of therapy.
Bronfenbrenner (1976) distinguishes between two levels of systems. The microsystem
refers to the system parameters usually mapped by family therapists. These are
contained within the constellation of relationships between the person and their
immediate environment (family, home and work settings etc.). The macrosystem, in
contrast consists of the overarching cultural institutions including socio-economic and
legal-political infrastructure. Though usually considered to be outside the immediate
scope of psychological counselling, the wider system has an undoubted impact, and
may be increasingly forcing its way through the psychological microsystem. At the very
least, counsellors will inevitably encounter clients who's experience of culture is
markedly different from their own. For many such clients belonging to a different and
minority cultural group may be an alienating and disadvantageous experience.
Therapists cannot hope to help their clients intrapsychic difficulties if they unable to
comprehend the impact of the macrosystem.
The counselling professions are relatively young and sometimes impatient to show
themselves as above cultural biases. It is clear, however, that much needs to be done in
the recruitment and training of its members. It remains an overwhelmingly white and
middle class occupational group which has had very limited opportunity to work
multiculturally before engaging in professional practice. Efforts to train psychological
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counsellors in understanding the detail of cultural diversity, however, has led to


criticism of counsellors becoming psychological "tourists" visiting their clients cultural
experiences (Krause & Miller 1995).
The way forwards appears to be through psychological counsellors developing
multicultural sensitivity (Tien & Johnson 1994). It is essential, however, that training
and supervision does not engage in reverse racism where trainees are victim blamed for
their own cultural encapsulation. Equally, indoctrination through political correctness
can only be counter productive. Clinical supervision has an especially important role to
play in this process by encouraging trainees and practitioners to constructively explore
their attitudes and expectations of multicultural work in an atmosphere of support and
respect.
Psychological counsellors have the prospect of expanding their personal sensitivity and
professional effectiveness by embracing multicultural work. As I have described
elsewhere (Rawson et al 1999:22): "Counselling operates within a cultural context.
Failure to respond sensitively will inevitably lead to a negative view of the profession.
Through cross-cultural work, the counselling profession has the opportunity to take a
significant part in leadingtowards a more integrated multicultural society, not just to
pick up the pieces when it goes wrong. This perhaps is its greatest challenge."
Counselling procedure are based on the various principles of learning proposed in the
behavioural approach. Using operant conditioning principles, undesirable behaviour
may be decreased or eliminated through using reinforcement or punishment, either
operated by clients themselves, or by significant others in the clients environment. To
learn new behaviour or skill, the counsellor will use shaping technique, where the target
skill is broken down into smaller, achievable unit so that clients can accomplish one
small change at one time until they acquire the whole new behaviour. Rehearsal is a
major technique for clients to practice new behaviour. Using classical conditioning
principles where fear or phobia has been acquired, a technique called systematic
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desensitization can be applied. In this technique, instead of feeling fear or anxiety about
an object, person or animal, clients are taught to feel relax and calm at various small
steps approaching the main feared figure. Modelling is another technique where clients
observe a model demonstrates the desirable behaviour. The model can be the counsellor,
a peer or a family member.
APPLICATION TO NIGERIA SITUATION
An example of a currently used behavioral approach to psychology is setting up an
incentive system in order to get your child to do chores. They do a chore, they get a
token, at the end of a certain amount of time they turn their tokens in for something
larger (money, an outing, whatever). Behavioral psychology believes that we LEARN
by manipulating (not necessarily in a negative way) the situation to provoke the desired
behavior, and if it happens over and over, the person has learned it and ultimately won't
need to have the situation manipulated anymore. This sprung from Pavlov's research
with dogs (rang the bell, gave them food, later rang the bell and sometimes gave them
food, eventually they salivated every time he rang the bell even though he'd stopped
giving them food after it). Behavioral approaches deal in the here and now, and aren't
terribly concerned with the inner workings of the mind, or things that happened in the
past to create the current behavior. This sometimes accounts for its limitations,
particularly with trauma victims. A psychodynamic approach IS interested in the inner
workings of the mind. Some therapists use a combination of behavioral and
psychodynamic methods.
A popular behavioral approach being used now is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
(REBT). It is probably the most complex, and the approach that most deals with the
interaction between the mind, using logic and motivation, and behavior, including
emotional behavior. A behavioral consultation can take place in a clinical
setting(medical office or clinic) or educational setting (your kid's school), or with an
independent practitioner, like a psychologist or social worker. According to Ellis,
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humans are both rational and irrational, sensible and crazy. Irrationality and craziness
are inherent and may be encouraged unless, a new way of thinking is taught. Irrational
thinking, or irrational beliefs contribute to negative emotions and ineffective behaviour.
It is not the events that create bad feelings, but how humans think about the events.
Irrational pattern of thinking may begin early in life or reinforced by significant others,
as well as the general society and environment. Ellis believed that when people have
emotional problems, their irrational thoughts would lead to verbalization or self-talk
that are based on faulty logic and assumptions. Subsequently, what people tell
themselves is related to the way they feel or act.
REFERENCES
Eysenck, Hans (2004) [1999]. Gregory, Richard L. (ed.). ed. Oxford Companion to the Mind. Oxford:
Oxford University Press. pp. 9293. ISBN 0-19-860224-3.
Robertson, D. (2010). The Philosophy of CognitiveBehavioural Therapy: Stoicism as Rational and
Cognitive Psychotherapy. London: Karnac. ISBN 978-1-85575-756-1.
Wolpe, J. & Lazarus, A. (1966) Behavior Therapy Techniques: A Guide to the Treatment of Neuroses,
pp. 12.
Thorndike, E.L. (1911), "Provisional Laws of Acquired Behavior or Learning", Animal Intelligence
(New York: The McMillian Company)
In A.J. Bachrach (Ed.), Experimental foundations of clinical psychology (pp. 325). New York: Basic
Books
Martin, G.; Pear, J. (2007). Behavior modification: What it is and how to do it (Eighth Edition). Upper
Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN 978-0-13-194227-1
Lindsley, O.; Skinner, B.F.; Solomon, H.C. (1953). Studies in behavior therapy (Status Report I).
Walthama, MA.: Metropolitan State Hospital.
Clark, David M.; Christopher G. Fairburn (1997). Science and Practice of Cognitive Behaviour
Therapy. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-262726-0.

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