Behavioral Family Therapy

Therapists who take a behavioral approach lean heavily on learning theory. They understand the dysfunctional or deviant behaviors occurring in the families they treat as learned responses that can be replaced by more functional behaviors and ways of reacting by the use of behavioral techniques such as those outlined above. A prominent practitioner of and researcher in behavioral interventions with families is Gerald Patterson. Like most behaviorists he tends to be precise in his definition of problem behaviors, carrying out a careful analysis of what is happening—especially what appears to be maintaining the undesired behaviors —before devising interventions in the family system designed to produce behavioral change. [See Behavior Therapy.]

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