Behavioral Therapy is a primary focus on the ways in which people act and find themselves in patterns and cycles of results. Whether we realize it or not, we tend to fall back to the strategies which we are most familiar with. People often dogmatically cling to this because we may not even recognize that we are just trying to get though this and hope for better later. Choices are a function of what a situation means to us and then selecting from the options we think will work best.
In Behavioral therapy we look at the influences of the conditioning that has taught such faulty lessons and then bravely push forward with what we know to be improved options. Think of how we know through experience that fire is not to be touched because of the unquestionable consequences. Most of us respect such a lesson and work solutions with that knowledge guiding us. Motivation to succeed comes with retraining our brains to see the functionality (will this work in the real world) versus “a gut feeling” (the easiest and most familiar way to get by).
There is a good deal of crossover between Behavioral Therapy and Parenting Education. The basic ingredients involved are all about recognizing motivations and patterns. What is the person who is acting out really trying to achieve? What are the motivations of the person implementing the rules? What are the societal expectations? What is the developmental factors of the persons involved? In behavioral therapy, we start with understanding the patterns of person and family. Like detectives, we will peel back the layers and start to recognize how all the instances form a pattern.
In counseling, blame is a poor substitute for taking ownership of one’s own choices. While kids’ (or troubled partners’) acting out behaviors are usually the catalyst for seeking out therapy, it is usually the family system that is contributing to the overall stumbling taking place. The bottom line is that when you’re ready for change, be prepared to reflect on how you as a parent (or partner) can make improvements to your own patterns. Often it the case, that change will start with being able to see this as a process of mutual change. It’s not a measurement of who is right and wrong, it is more about what is Effective & Functional .
As Behavioral therapy progresses, we will identify the difference between boundaries and limits. Both are essential in maintaining behavioral success. Boundaries are what we deem as baseline expectations of respect, personal safety, privacy, independence, and mutual promotion. Limits are clearly defined rules which are either adhered to or broken. In behavioral therapy, you can set and hold an equal or an outsider to boundaries. With Limits, it involves someone you have authority over, you set clear expectations and follow through with upholding consequences.
Boundary and limit setting rely upon proactively defining what is expected in clear, measurable, and observable ways. We then calmly, but directly, confront those line crossings, and hold yourself and others to standards. We will learn to avoid power struggles, or be bogged down in debate about what is fair (such things will be defined in creating plans). We will learn and master the use of self-coaching to keep your presentation solution-focused and avoid people reacting to how you express your concerns and focus increasingly on what is being addressed. You will learn to communicate, compromise, and create action plans to better define what is expected of all involved. Later, these proactive measures will be the defining baseline of how to hold yourself and others accountable.