In the previous chapter attention was drawn to techniques that exert influence through specific alterations to the client's environment, such as changing the contingencies which surround him or her-producing new cues and new consequences which affect behaviour. Now we turn to a set of approaches which focus on the nature of the responses produced within a given set of contingencies, rather than to the stimuli themselves. These response control techniques (Bandura 1969) are directed towards the production, by direct teaching, of new and more adaptive motor, verbal, emotional and cognitive responses. In other words, they seek to change what a person does, feels and thinks in response to the environment within which problems arise.
Let us begin, as before, by locating ourselves on the assessment diagram, Figure 5.1 on p. 116. Response control techniques are mainly used where the answer to the question: 'are target behaviours already in repertoire at any significant level?' is 'no'. That is, when clients have either: (a) never learned to perform the types of response which it is thought are needed to solve their problems; or (b) where such responses have been learned in the past, but are now lost-as with certain psychiatric conditions and the associated effects of institutionalization; or (c) where, for whatever reason, the behaviours occur very infrequently or at a low level, and operant shaping is likely to be too labour-intensive an approach.
There are also occasions where responses are in excess-as in the case of aggressiveness, where either the therapist is unable to gain sufficient control over the contingencies supporting this behaviour, or the problem stems from behavioural deficits (the client never having learned how else to respond). These prepotent responses can also be brought under control by the teaching of new behaviours which are incompatible with the old (see p. 195).
Sometimes problematic behaviour is under the control of variables to which the therapist does not have ready access-for instance, when the client is influenced by his peer group, or when problems occur at work. Here, although ideally it is the contingencies supporting the problem which should be modified, any help given has to concentrate on assisting the client to modify these conditions for him or herself. Although it makes sense to attack the problem
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Publication information: Book title: Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy: Research, Practice, and Philosophy. Contributors: Brian Sheldon - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 194.
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