Positive behavioural change is a set of tools used by teachers and psychologists to reduce instances of problem behaviour in pupils and patients. This is done by teaching them new skills which reinforce positive behaviour while also making changes in a person’s environment. Positive behavioural change combines four key aspects which we’ll cover in more detail.
Valued outcomes are a way of measuring the success of behavioural change in patients. They are essentially a set of long-term goals that provide enhancements to a person’s individual satisfaction. Valued outcomes are typically tailored for each patient and focus on resolving specific behavioural issues. Valued outcomes might include improvements to a person’s quality of life, increased academic performance or a noticeable increase in social belonging.
For example, a practitioner may advise lifestyle changes to a patient who is addicted to gambling due to low self-esteem. In this case, he or she may advise drinking less alcohol and taking more physical exercise. These simple lifestyle changes will reduce the patient’s access to gambling activities while the exercise will result in an improved mental state. Both of these will result in a valued outcome for the patient.
Positive behavioural change strategies are based on behavioural science research which focuses on examining the interaction between a person’s behaviour and their environment. Using this approach, behaviour is considered under the control of environmental factors which can be changed to invoke a change in a person’s behaviour.
The assessments and strategies used in behavioural change analysis are based on this research and emphasize the importance of a person’s environment when recommending changes to a person’s lifestyle. It is important that environmental factors are considered with an overview of a person’s psychiatric state because knowledge of any underlying biological factors can help to develop a successful behavioural change strategy.
When evaluating a person’s response to a specific behavioural change strategy, it is important that changes are recorded using validated procedures. System-level interventions are required to ensure the success of the treatment plan if multiple changes are made to a person’s lifestyle or environment.
In this case, it is vital that practitioners understand which environmental change is responsible for each positive change in behaviour. To facilitate this, multiple systems should be used and extensive data should be collected. Such systems include program evaluation measures, qualitative research, interviews, correlational analyses, direct observation and personal surveys. The results of these systems should then be collated to give an overview of the person’s progress.
We have already established that a person’s environment plays a large factor in that person’s behaviour. Therefore, environmental changes are one of the most important tools in any behavioural practitioner’s toolkit. However, this can lead to problems because a beneficial environment change is not always possible due to circumstances.
For example, it may be beneficial for a person to move out of a densely populated area to improve their social anxiety. But this may not be possible, due to that person’s work or family commitments. In this case, other environmental changes will have to be proposed, which may or may not result in a valued outcome.
Positive behavioural change can achieve dramatic results for people suffering from a range of psychological problems. But if it is to be successful, any positive behavioural change program must be tailored to the individual and properly planned and implemented by a trained practitioner.