Group Leadership Skills

By Carolyn Chambers Clark | Go to book overview

7
Behavioral Approaches for Group
Leaders

The terms “behavioral modification” or “the behavioral approach” refer to an approach that focuses on behavioral change and is based on certain principles of learning, such as reinforcement. To some extent, all communication can be said to be behaviorally oriented, since it usually represents an attempt to influence others. If you nod in approval when a group member speaks you reinforce that behavior, thus increasing the possibility that it will occur more frequently. The behavioral approach is not concerned with insight or with whether people understand why they act as they do, but it focuses on decreasing unsatisfying or disruptive behavior and on increasing satisfying, goal-directed behavior.

A behavioral approach considers the individual's present difficulties, identifies specific behaviors that must be changed, counts the frequency of each behavior (baseline data), and then uses reinforcement to increase desired behaviors. The behavioral approach can be used in a number of ways in a group setting. One way is to gather together a group of either staff members or clients in order to teach them assertive behavior. Behavioral modification techniques can also be used to help one or more group members to make more verbal statements, or to decrease disruptive behavior in others. Yet another way to use this approach is to gather together parents who are concerned about their children's behavior. Common behavioral patterns that can be dealt with by teaching parents certain behavioral approaches include complaining, soiling, teasing, truancy, temper tantrums, sulking, not picking up toys or possessions, and crying. (Hemphill & Littlefield, 2001). A behavior approach has also been used successfully for crime victims with posttraumatic stress disorder (Krakow et al., 2001).

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