Behavioral Therapy (3)

– This is the 3rd article about therapies that used by David Goodwin during counseling with children –

Behavioral therapy has been known as one of the classic approaches to understand human behavior. This theory believes that environment has the deepest impact on someone’s behavior or action. Family background, educational background and daily treatment from others can affect on how a child behave.

In counseling session, behavioral therapy can be modified in many ways. One of the tools in this therapy is token economy.

Token Economy
Token Economy

A token economy is a system in which an individual earns tokens for targeted behaviors. Once he has collected a predetermined number of tokens he can trade them for an item or activity that he desires.

Token economy can be an effective tool for us to gain the information or action needed during counseling, so that we can help a child to deal with the problems that he or she is facing. The tokens can be anything motivated, such as: stickers, favorite cartoon profile, toys or money. But don’t forget that:

Token economies are one type of secondary (conditioned) reinforcement. That is, tokens begin as essentially neutral stimuli, of little significance in and of themselves. However, as the tokens become increasingly associated with the reinforcers for which they are exchanged, the tokens themselves can become mildly reinforcing, making learning that much more motivating.

Another treatment that has been known in this therapy is conditioning. Classical conditioning is one way of associative learning, in which a child is associating a neutral stimulus with other stimulus that have some significance. The purpose is to produce a certain behavioral response wanted. It is first introduced by Ivan Pavlov.

Pavlov - Classical Conditioning
Pavlov - Classical Conditioning

This therapy is goal oriented, therefore as therapist, we need use positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. Positive Reinforcement is “catching” a kid doing something you want them to do and rewarding it. The child gets attention and reward as positive reinforcement for doing the right thing and will focus on repeating that behavior.

People usually mixed up Negative reinforcement with Punishment. They are working different ways.

Negative Reinforcement strengthens a behavior because a negative condition is stopped or avoided as a consequence of the behavior.

Punishment, on the other hand, weakens a behavior because a negative condition is introduced or experienced as a consequence of the behavior.


Parents, teachers and counselors can use this therapy with children to strengthen their positive behaviors and avoid or limit their negative behaviors. When a child perform well and start to internalized such values, then they can get their token as rewards. When a child perform such negative behaviors, then we can weaken those behaviors with negative reinforcements. By doing this, a child can understand which behaviors are acceptable and which are not, in order to gain his or her personal values.

Way to go!

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