ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Problems in Using Behavior Modification With PTSD Children

Updated on May 22, 2012

The use of traditional behavior modification techniques with stress disordered children needs to be done with caution and extra care. The issue of the primary source of the child’s behaviors needs to take precedence over simply “pressing on” with behavior modification techniques. The key indicator to the clinical team treating the child is that they will find the child’s behaviors getting much worse despite using behavioral methods that should be working.This initially can be mistaken as an “extinction burst”, and the team may be motivated to apply more behavior modification pressure.Of course, such efforts are doomed, because the central issue is not “non-compliance”, but reactivity to stress loads. Essentially, such adherence to strict behavior modification protocols in working with PTSD children is working out of a mistaken idea of what the source of the behavior is (read: “the child is trying to manipulate or control’.)

It is often difficult for people who have a strong background (and success) with behavior modification to adapt to the Gentling Approach because it feels counterintuitive. Not only clinicians, but teachers, Therapeutic Support Staff, parents, and foster parents also struggle with the change from a classic behavioral approach. But again, the “proof is in the pudding”, so to speak: when repeated attempts to use a behavioral technique that should work is not working, behavior modification theory states that the plan needs to be reworked. In this case, the behavior modification techniques, though still very valuable, must make room for the Gentling Approach to work side by side. Indeed, there are times when the behavior modification techniques must take a back seat to the Gentling Approach if progress is to be made.

Behavior modification techniques are excellent in helping a stress disordered child to feel safer in their environment, especially if the child comes from a family of origin environment that has been chaotic and inconsistent in setting boundaries and limits. Tightening boundaries and limits adds to the security and lessens stress loads for the child. The trick is for the caregiver to know when, and more importantly, when not to use behavior modification techniques. Essentially, classic behavior modification techniques are inherently stress inducing. Applying them during a stress episode is simply counterproductive. Secondary to this is for caregivers to be able to accurately ascertain when the child’s stress levels are at the edge of the child’s tolerance. Another way of expressing this is that once the child is at the “tipping point” of being near the entry into a stress episode, behavior modification techniques will only serve to push the child into the highly painful and destructive stress episode.

Overall, the application of behavior modification techniques should not be the first choice of approaches in the beginning of treatment, but rather, grow in use, scope, and intensity as the child’s stress levels decrease. Care must be taken along the way of the increase to ascertain if the selected behavioral techniques and the scope of their use is overloading the child’s stress tolerance. This is not to ignore the difficult behavior issues that the child may have, and that may, in fact, be quite pressing. It’s just a matter of “triage”: you can’t work the underlying difficult behaviors of manipulation, opposition, nastiness, and social awkwardness until the stress levels stabilize to a level that allows such work.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • krillco profile imageAUTHOR

      William E Krill Jr 

      6 years ago from Hollidaysburg, PA

      ThunderKeys: I have no problem with the idea that the behaviors need to be stabilized, I just don't agree that a classic, 'logical', cold hearted, contingency behavioral approach works.

    • ThunderKeys profile image

      ThunderKeys 

      7 years ago

      Great article. However a vast and growing evidence base demonstrates the primary role of behavioral stabilization in the effective treatment of disruptive behavior disorders, which are often co-morbid with trauma and neglect. In treatment foster care for example,please MTFC and social learning research precursors.

      Coercive-control and other subtractive reinforcement communication/behavior patterns block corrective bonding events, and must be controlled for simultaneous to, or antecedent to attachment correctives.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)