Behavioural Assessment Techniques


A major impetus for behaviour therapy was disenchantment with the medical model of psychopathology that views problem behaviours as the result of an underlying illness or pathology. Behaviourists assert that both ‘disordered’ and ‘non-disordered’ behaviour can be explained using a common set of principles describing classical and operant conditioning.

Behaviourists believe that behaviours are best understood in terms of their function. Two ‘symptoms’ may differ in form, while being similar in function. For example, Jacobson (1992) describes topographically diverse behaviours such as walking away or keeping busy that all function to create distance between a client and his partner. Conversely, topographically similar behaviours may serve different functions. For example, tantrums may serve to elicit attention from adults or may be an indication that the present task ...

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