Behavior Therapy

Behavior Therapy (BT) is a type of therapy based on behavioral principles (e.g., rewards, reinforcement, consequences, shaping). Some classic examples of these principles that many people are familiar with are Pavlov’s dogs who were trained to salivate at the sound of a bell and Skinner’s pigeons who developed superstitious behaviors. With humans, behavior therapy is used to make changes to an environment or interaction with goals like reinforcing behaviors that we want to increase and reducing reinforcement of behaviors that we want to decrease. For example, if a child is biting their nails when they are nervous, behavior therapy might help a child to develop alternative coping strategies that would result in a reduction of anxiety (e.g., playing with a fidget toy) without causing damage to their body.
Age range: 1st grade through 5th grade.
Recommended for: This interactive workbook is a must-read for a child who is struggling with a body-focused repetitive behavior such as nail-biting, hair-pulling, skin-picking, lip-chewing, nose-picking, or thumb-sucking and who wants to stop. Children often develop shame about these behaviors and can’t stop despite caregivers’ frequent urging. This workbook is super destigmatizing–in fact, it explains to children why it makes sense that they feel the urge to do these things. It then presents five “keys”–very doable, evidence-based behaviors–that children can use to start new habits that will make the old ones obsolete. This book can be used in therapy sessions, as therapy “homework” between sessions, or at home with a caregiver.