Who Responds Well To Modeling Behavior?

By: Sarah Fader

Updated May 09, 2019

Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC

Source: flickr.com

Many different kinds of therapy exist in the world, each of which works well for certain people, and not so much for others. You and your therapist can figure out which type of treatment is the most appropriate for you and your mental health needs.

Therapists use group therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, hypnosis, and so much more. You can find more information about different forms of behavioral therapy in this article posted by BetterHelp. Often, therapists use a combination of techniques to best meet their client's needs. They make this determination based on many factors if your present mental health and your treatment plan. One of the most popular techniques that are being used by therapists around the world is Modeling Behavior Therapy.

What Is Modeling Behavior Therapy?

Modeling behavior is a technique used by therapists to help their clients with an array of issues. You watch others model how to solve the exact issue that you are presently having. This can include phobias, behavior modification, social anxiety, and many other issues. While reading about solutions and talking about them can be helpful, watching these techniques getting put to use has shown extremely effective in patients. It seems to make more of a lasting effect on them to physically experience this along with the person modeling the behavior.

Behavior can be modeled to show someone how to do something, how not to do something and how to modify their behavior to meet their needs best. Describing to someone what to do can become confusing to them. They may feel as though they are carrying out the techniques appropriately, but if they can watch the right way to do something, they would be able to copy those behaviors when it is their turn. Modeling Behavior Therapy is most effective when done live, as in the patient is present with the person modeling the behavior and witnesses the situation in-person. The therapy can also be done through watching the activity on television, either live with cameras or pre-recorded. However, the person may feel more removed from the situation if they are not experiencing the action in person.

Who Is Modeling Behavior Therapy Used To?

The truth of the matter is that most anyone can benefit from modeling behavior therapy. Just as when small children are growing and learning about the environment around them, they copy their parents and siblings on how to behave and respond to situations, this is no different. However, in this instance, it pertains towards mental health.

  • Children and adolescents can benefit from this form of therapy. By modeling behavior for children and adolescents, they can better learn how to react to situations and see an immediate response in return. This can be very effective in social situations. If they are learning how to fit in at school or how to respond to being offered drugs or alcohol in the community, they can watch someone else navigate that social scene and watch that play out. Then, when they are in that situation themselves, they will feel more comfortable and know what to do and say to stay safe.

It is common for children and adolescents to tune out the adult giving them a lecture or simply skim through a book without mastering the material, so it is no surprise that many children do not heed their parents' wisdom. However, if they experience children just like them being approached by a very tempting situation and navigate it appropriately, that will stick in their head like glue. They will not be able to forget that moment and will be reminded of how to respond each time they are put in that situation.

Source: pixabay.com

  • Married couples can also benefit from this. It is no secret that the divorce rate in America is concerningly high. Therefore, if couples are seeking to counsel, it shows that they are ready and willing to change their present state and strive to improve their relationship, rather than give up. This is a positive thing, and many couples in this situation would state that they are willing to try anything to get their marriage back on track. For married couples in counseling, it would be beneficial for them to see how other married couples get into an argument and they can rectify that argument and grow from it, rather than let the issues stew and ultimately end up in divorce.

Many times, it is easy to get caught up in our problems and issues that it may be eye-opening to see that other married couples have issues as well. It will also help to see that the things that one married couple fights about are likely very similar to what most other married couples fight about. Then, for them to see how other couples fight and then for that couple to model how to recover from this fight, is essential to the health of their marriage. For this modeling, it would be important for the couple to experience this together, as they can later talk about what they were witness to and their feelings towards it.

  • First-time parents are also extremely appropriate for this form of treatment. Sure, you can read all of the parenting books that have ever been published, but it is very different when that baby is handed to you, and then their life is literally in your hands. For young parents, if they can witness modeled behavior on how to change diapers, how to calm a crying baby, how to feed a baby and how to interact with a baby, the success rate of first-time parents would likely dramatically increase. Many first-time parents do take a parenting class before having their baby, so perhaps this would be the best time to allow this modeling behavior to occur. They can see how other parents handle the stress and anxiety of a newborn baby. Then, when they are in that situation, rather than become flustered and unsure, they will hopefully recall the behavior modeling and react in a way that they know should work.
  • Addicts can also benefit from this therapy. Behavior modeling can be extremely appropriate and beneficial to those addicted to drugs or alcohol; however, it is essential to ensure that they are sober at the time of the modeling. As part of their treatment, addicts can watch other addicts navigate the social scene of being offered a beer at a ballgame, a glass of wine at dinner or some pain medication in the park. They can witness how a recovering addict can use their coping skills to turn down this temptation.

They can also see someone model the behavior of how other recovering addicts deal with feeling as though they want to use and seek out those substances. The appropriate behavior of seeking out their sponsor or going to an AA or NA meeting can be modeled, and they can see how well it works for that other person. Perhaps then, they would be willing to try that themselves when they feel tempted to use. Addiction is a very controlling illness and equipping those recovering from it what as many tools as they can utilize would only benefit them. Behavior modeling can be a very important tool for them to have.

As you can see, most anyone can benefit from this type of therapy. It is akin to if someone reads an instruction manual and understands the main concepts, but is more of a hands-on learner. For most, it is easier to physically see and do something than to read about it in a book.

Source: flickr.com

How Do I Get Help?

If after reading this information, you feel that you or someone you know would benefit from behavior modeling, you should first bring this idea to your current therapist. He or she would be able to provide insight into if he or she felt that this is an appropriate form of treatment for you. Feel free to write down what type of behavior you would like to see modeled in front of you and how that would benefit your mental health. In having this information, your therapist can make a sounder decision. If your therapist decides that behavior modeling is appropriate for your mental health needs, they would either provide the treatment themselves or refer you to a provider who can assist you.

If you do not presently have a mental health provider, you can locate one online using a service, such as BetterHelp. BetterHelp has hundreds of licensed therapists available online to virtually meet with you and provide you with a safe, secure and private therapy session. They provide an array of therapeutic services and support.

Source: flickr.com

The most important thing to realize and remember is that one individual cannot appropriately decide what is best for themselves therapeutically. You need the insight and input of a professional to make that decision. So, if you do not presently have a provider, it is important to find one that you can trust, either in person or virtually. It is also important to be honest with them so that they can make the best choice of treatment for you whether that is modeling behavior therapy, or something else.


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