Behavior Modification Therapy Effects of Behavior Modification Essay

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Behavior Modification Therapy

Effects of Behavior Modification Therapy on Children with Low Self-Esteem

Behavior modification therapy is used in changing the behavior of children, adolescents and adults. However, its use in modifying or dealing with self-esteem is not considered to be very effective and is not used frequently. This paper discusses the basic elements of behavior modification therapy along with the theoretical concepts involved in it. Later on in the paper, ten different studies are discussed mentioning the efficacy of the therapy with regards to low self-esteem in children. In the end, the conclusion about the effectiveness of the behavior modification therapy in treating children with low self-esteem is discussed.

Effects of Behavior Modification Therapy on Children with Low Self-Esteem

Behavior Modification Therapy

Majority of behavior modification research regarding children require management of extreme outcomes. There are basic methods involved in behavior modification therapy which are positive reinforcement and punishment. Examples of positive reinforcement are token programs, praise, differential corroboration etc. Examples of punishment are social isolation, time-out, verbal or physical penalty, negative non-verbal gesture etc. In positive reinforcement methods, normally some kind of positive reaction is shown to the child in response to his/her positive behavior so that the child is encouraged to behave or respond in an appropriate, changed or improved behavior next time. In a token reinforcement method, the children are given a token (e .g., poker chip) for engaging in certain desired behaviors and receives a back-up reinforce (e.g., toys, treats, privileges) for accumulating a set number of tokens (Kernis, Brown, & Brody, 2000).

In punishment reinforcement method, the respondent (teacher, parents, therapist etc.) eliminates the presumably positive reinforcement so that the unacceptable behavior by the child or children can be weakened or discouraged.

Theoretical Perspective of Behavior Modification Therapy

According to different studies that have been conducted regarding the behavior modification therapy, the selection of treatment strategies is guided by the identification of pathogenic processes for a set of manifest problems (Persons, 1989). This process should be informed by empirical evidence on associations between pathogenic mechanisms and specific clinical problems. In the case of low self-esteem, four behavioral modification formulations of pathogenic process are present, including unrealistic self-standards, inaccurate self-evaluation, undifferentiated self- structure, and inauthentic or false-self behavior. Although by no means exhaustive, these behavioral modification formulations provide a starting point for assessment in specific cases and, ultimately, for the selection of treatment strategies.


Low self-esteem is not solely the outcome of maladaptive behavioral processes. There is far too much evidence to indicate that family processes such as high parental criticism, traumatic life events such as sexual abuse (Bolger, Patterson, & Kupersmidt, 1998), and other life circumstances can have a corrosive influence on self- esteem. Thus, a caveat is in order: Self-esteem is not simply a task of interior development. In a lot of examples, deleterious processes in the social environment take their toll on children's self-esteem. However, such deleterious experiences are processed through a behavioral filter; consequently, behavior processes can amplify or ameliorate the effect of negative incidents.

Effects of Behavior Modification Therapy on Self-Esteem

Parents of clinically referred children often complain about their child's negative self-evaluation or low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is not considered as any kind of disease, disorder or a syndrome but is often presented as a symptom in various disorders. However, low self-esteem is rarely considered as an only target of behavior modification therapy (Kendall, 1991). Different studies have shown that interventions in which self-esteem was particularly targeted in the study showed more positive results than the ones in which the factor of self-esteem was used along with other variable like social skills, depression etc. This shows that keeping self-esteem as the only target during an intervention in the behavior modification therapy is more effective (Haney & Durlak, 1998). It has been observed that the problem of self-esteem can be solved to some extent while dealing with children's skills and relationships but if the problem of low self-esteem is targeted directly by treatment strategies may produce better results.

Studies Showing the Effectiveness of Behavior Modification Therapy

A drawback of meta-analysis is its incapability to recognize treatment elements or factors linked to affirmative results. To a certain extent, this issue is more obvious when a variety of treatment interventions are applied through studies reviewed. Consequently, important collection…

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