DSST Fundamentals of counseling

An event presented as a consequence of a person

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An event presented as a consequence of a person behaving in a desired way is called a positive reinforcement. When a particular event (given praise) occurs after a given behavior (get an A in school), that event is said to be a positive reinforcement. After repeated trials the act of giving praise elicits the behavior required to maintain an A average in school, thus the praise is considered positive reinforcement. Extinction is the process of withdrawing reinforcers. Extinction works when the behavior needs to be stopped rather than encouraged. A common example is a crying baby. Parents often ignore the child (withdraw the reinforcement of being held and cuddled) and this extinction method discourages the crying When behavior is reinforced there is potential for it to be generalized to other behavior. When the stimulus is similar, a person who has been positively reinforced for behaving in a particular way is likely to behave in a similar way to the new situation. Example: a child has learned to say please when he or she asks for something (by saying please the child is usually given the item); when faced with a situation where the child wants a particular toy at the store, the child says please over and over again hoping to elicit the behavior (getting the item) that has occurred time and again. Generalization, in and of itself, is not necessarily good or bad (learning how to deal with angry people is an example of a positive generalization) the outcome simply depends on the situation. Systematic desensitization is a behavioral approach designed to treat patients presenting extreme anxiety of fear toward a particular event or situation. The approach is to gradually introduce the feared stimulus and ensure that the client experiences a positive and relaxed reaction each time. Eventually the client will replace the reaction of fear or anxiety with the learned reaction of relaxation. Example: A person who has a fear of snakes is slowly introduced to snakes and learns to remain calm and relaxed in the snake’s presence. First a snake is in the vicinity, then one is in the room, then 3 feet away, 1 foot way… eventually the snake is on the person and the fear and anxiety are gone. In Vivo desensitization involves actual, physical exposure to a feared event or situation.
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Exposure to ones fears in the real world is a common treatment for phobias of all sorts. Flooding is a process of prolonged exposure to a feared stimulus. Rather than a gradual process of exposure, in the flooding method the client is thrown into the anxiety causing situation and after awhile realizes that the feared consequences don’t occur so the client learns that that particular stimulus is not scary or anxiety producing. A behavioral clinician approaches treatment for generalized anxiety disorder in many ways. One such way is called systematic desensitization .
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