Trauma and Psychotherapy: Implications from a Behavior Analysis Perspective

By Prather, Walter | The International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

Trauma and Psychotherapy: Implications from a Behavior Analysis Perspective


Prather, Walter, The International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy


Introduction

Authors of recent studies on abuse have proposed that trauma and related traumatic experiences have important implications for parent-child relationships, and may disrupt normal attachment behavior in children. These studies have primarily examined previous trauma and long-term sequela of severe childhood and adolescent psychopathology from the perspective of attachment theory (Bowlby, 1969, 1973, 1980). The central premise of attachment theory is that the security of the early child-parent bond is reflected in the child's interpersonal relationships across the life span (Schneider, Tardif, & Atkinson, 2001). This article examines attachment theory as a theoretical context for understanding trauma and attachment based models of family therapy from the perspective of behavior analysis. The present article proposes a research model to provide the context to examine how abuse and neglect, separation or loss, family therapy, parent-child relationships, and secure attachments can be integrated to predict positive outcomes in families with adoptive and foster children.

Research studies focusing on mediating the long-term sequela of abuse have repeatedly argued that feeling secure is our most primary social need, and that a history of pathogenic care can interfere with secure attachment and disrupt healthy development in children (Howe, Brandon, Hinnings, & Schofield, 1999; Schneider, Tardif, & Atkinson, 2001). This is especially true in foster and adoptive families in which children have been abused or neglected as part of their early experiences. Research on foster children and problematic attachment has consistently found that long-term sequela of abuse creates strain on attachment with their adoptive parents (Berry & Barth, 1989; Dyer, 2004; O'Connor & Zeanah, 2003). This strain in the children's lives, often through multiple placements, increases the likelihood of difficulties across a range of development. Research investigating abuse and insecure attachment behavior in foster and adoptive children has linked these factors to emotional and behavioral difficulties in these children.

This article looks at the emotional and behavioral symptoms associated with abused children placed in foster and adoptive families from a multidimensional complex of systemic and contextual factors that impact behavior. The research model underlying this multidimensional complex provides the context to examine the many important roles of family members and other reinforcing agents, and presents a rationale for a behavioral treatment approach for abused children and their adoptive parents. The rationale underlying this behavioral approach assumes that overcoming long-term consequences of abuse is subject to the same lawful inevitability as other behavior (Wolpe, 1978), and challenges the allegation that children have a continued dependency on the external structure in behavioral treatment programs. Individual differences in abused and neglected children are determined by previous learning in relation to particular perceptions and unique experiences. Although much learning is reinforced though external consequences, the relative importance of this multidimensional behavioral approach assumes that the "character of an (abused child's) responses is inevitably controlled and is determined by previous learning, and in other instances subserved by other reinforcing agents" (Wolpe, 1978). Reasons are given for rejecting the views of traditional therapists and others that talking about trauma to "co-construct the meaning" or that recognition of "emotion" is necessary for healthy behavior change. Questions are raised which suggest that traditional family therapy provides an environment for learned dysfunctional habits that are then reinforced in therapy.

Research Model

In the case of foster and adopted children, the development of a secure and coherent pattern of attachment behaviors toward their caregivers is heralded as the primary indicator of positive change in the family. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Trauma and Psychotherapy: Implications from a Behavior Analysis Perspective
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.