Behavioral, Cognitive, Systemic, Brief, and Crisis Theories of Counseling

The first person to popularize this behavioral treatment method was B.F Skinner (1904-1990), and there are several figures who helped develop this behavioral theory, including Ivan Pavlov, John B. Watson, and Mary Cover Jones. 

Contemporary figures, such as Albert Bandura, John Krumboltz, Neil Jacobson, Steven Heyes, and Marsha Linehan also contributed a lot to this counseling program. 


The viewpoint of human nature adherents of this behavior has ideas about human nature as below: (Rimm & Cunningham 1985; Seligman, 2006).

  1. Concentrate on the behavioral process.
  2. Focus on present and present behavior.
  3. Assumes that all learned behavior is either adaptive or maladaptive.
  4. Have the belief that learning is effective in changing maladaptive behavior.
  5. Focuses on setting appropriate therapeutic goals with the client.
  6. Rejects the idea that human personality is a composite of traits.

The role of the counselor in this theory is that a counselor can take on several roles, depending on the orientation of his behavior and the goals of the client. However, most counselors who use behavioral techniques are active in counseling sessions. In the process, counselors function as consultants, teachers, advisors, facilitators, and supporters (James & Gilliland, 2003). 

Effective behavioral counselors work from a broad perspective and involve clients in every stage of counseling. The purpose of behavioral theory is that basically, behavioral counselors want to help clients to adjust well to their living conditions, and to achieve their personal and professional goals. Thus, the focus is on changing or eliminating the client's maladaptive behavior while helping him find healthy and constructive ways of acting.

The techniques used in this behavioral theory have some of the most effective and well-researched counseling techniques, namely:

  1. General behavioral techniques, namely techniques that can be applied in all behavioral theories.
  2. The use of reinforcers, i.e. reinforcers are events that, when following all behaviors, increase the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated. Reinforcement can be positive or negative.
  3. Reinforcement schedule, which is when a behavior is first learned the behavior must be reinforced each time it occurs. In other words, given reinforcement.
  4. Formation i.e. counselors can help break down behavior into manageable units.
  5. Generalization is showing the behavior to the environment outside where the behavior was studied.
  6. Maintenance is consistency in performing the desired action without relying on the support of others. One way to do this is through self-monitoring, as the client learns to change his behavior.
  7. Annihilation means the elimination of behavior due to the withdrawal of reinforcement, only a few individuals will continue to do something that does not bring benefits.
  8. Punishment here involves providing a highly undesirable stimulus to a situation to emphasize or eliminate a behavior.
  9. Specific behavioral techniques are refined behavioral methods, which combine general techniques in an appropriate way.
  10. Behavioral training consists of practicing the desired behavior until the behavior can be performed in the way the client expects.
  11. Environmental planning is in which the client creates an environment to enhance or limit certain behaviors.
  12. Systemic desensitization aims to help clients cope with anxiety in certain situations.
  13. m. Assertive practice is that people should be able to express their feelings and thoughts freely and appropriately. Clients are taught that everyone has the right (not the obligation) to express themselves.
  14. The contract may state that the behavior will be carried out, changed, or terminated, the rewards associated with achieving the goal.
  15. Impulsivity and flooding are advanced techniques that involve desensitizing the client to a situation by making him imagine a situation that causes anxiety and has serious consequences.
  16. Time out is a mild rejection technique in which the client is not given the opportunity to receive positive reinforcement.
  17. Overcorrection is a technique in which the client first returns the environment to its natural state and makes it better.
  18. Closing sensitization is a technique of removing unwanted behavior, by associating it with displeasure.

Strengths and contributions, some of the unique and strong aspects of the behavioral approach are as follows:

  1. This approach is face-to-face with symptoms. Because most of the clients are looking for help for certain problems.
  2. This approach focuses on the here and now, the client doesn't have to look to the past for help in the present.
  3. This approach offers many techniques for counselors to use.
  4. This approach is based on learning theory, which is a well-defined method of documentation.
  5. This approach is reinforced by the ABCT (Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies), the association for behavioral and cognitive therapy, which improves the practice of behavioral counseling methods.
  6. This approach is supported by excellent research on how behavioral techniques can affect the counseling process.
  7. This approach is objective in defining and dealing with problems and facilitates understanding of the counseling process.
  8. The limitations of the behavioral approach or behavioral approach include:
  9. This approach doesn't handle the client as a whole, only explicit behavior.
  10. This approach is sometimes applied mechanically.
  11. This approach appears best in controlled conditions which may be difficult to repeat in normal counseling situations.
  12. This approach ignores the client's past and unconscious powers.
  13. This approach does not consider the stages of development.
  14. This approach programs the client towards a minimal or tolerable level of behavior and so on.

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