What are Some Behavior Modification Programs for Adults?


Each of us, no matter how well we think of ourselves, has negative behavioral traits. Some are more subtle than others. Some are on the extreme end of the spectrum. But they all exist, for better or worse.

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Through behavior modification programs for adults, the goal is to phase out those negative behavioral patterns and implement positive behaviors instead. There are certain modification programs in particular that have proven to be effective at just that.

How to Modify Behavior?

There are behavior modification programs for adults that have shown to be effective at establishing better, more positive behavioral patterns. There are several in particular that have been implemented with the goal of rewarding positive behavior and punishing negative behavior.

Since humans are such nuanced creatures, it may not be so simple to practice some forms of behavioral therapy. Let’s look at the different options, what they entail, and how they can work to achieve these goals.

Positive Reinforcement

One of the most common techniques to modify behavior is through positive reinforcement. This is the practice of offering some sort of reward for good behavior. The reward can be anything that is deemed positive, from praise to a physical reward.

The reward and the reinforcer is what strengthens the positive reaction when associated with the action itself. That is what makes it more attractive. For instance, you might give your child screen time if they do their homework when they get home from school. The goal is to provide motivation to do the chore that they may not otherwise be motivated to take on.

There is a belief that positive reinforcement is a healthy way of tackling a challenging task or achieving a goal. Even adults can use positive reinforcement to know that they are doing the things that they should be doing. Rewarding that positive behavior is not something that ever has to end and can be quite effective in the long-term.

Negative Reinforcement

On the other end of the spectrum is negative reinforcement. This is the belief that behavior is enforced through the removal of something negative. Perhaps in the example of the student above, a teacher removes homework for positive test results. It can be helpful in supporting behavioral change within individuals without necessarily “rewarding” them.

It is also different from the classic form of negative reinforcement where the person is punished for not doing their task. That negative enforcement can have a poor impact long-term, which is why implementing different forms of reinforcement – whether giving something or taking away something bad – can be so effective over time.

Negative Punishment

In contrast to both of those, there is the negative punishment option. This is the belief that a negative action or removing something will act as a consequence in order to get the child or person to change their bad behavior.

For instance, a screaming child may be told that they will lose their favorite doll if they don’t stop acting out. Or perhaps they won’t get dessert if they don’t eat their plate of vegetables. The negative consequences can be small or major in nature depending on who is implementing the negative action.

What is Behavior Modification Therapy?

To put it simply, behavior modification is used to replace certain negative behavioral patterns. Either a behavior change is promoted or desired behaviors are implemented into their place. This method utilizes things such as praise and approval to garner the behavior that is desired.

This is one of the behavior modification programs for adults that originates in something called operant conditioning. This theory states that behavior which has a positive outcome will likely occur more frequently than one that is met with a negative outcome.

This is where the idea of positive reinforcement comes from. Basically, if the behavior has been enforced, it will continue. Should undesirable behavior be inherently ignored, the thought is that it will simply go away over time.

Using this technique, the goal is to help rid an individual of unwanted behavioral traits. At the same time, the goal is also to help support deeper positive changes. This type of therapy is common when it comes to some mental conditions and even treatment for substance abuse.

Who Benefits From Behavior Modification Therapy?

For the most part, behavior modification techniques are implemented when treating those with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

It is also a behavior modifier in children. Implementing these practices can help to get your child to achieve the goals or actions that you want while also instilling important lessons that will help them as they develop.

Some of the more common applications of behavior modification include beginning a wellness routine including exercise or dieting, achieving goals such as finishing a project, quitting smoking, or any number of other things.

Should you find that certain problematic behaviors keep occurring, either with yourself or your child, then it is time to speak to a licensed therapist. They can work with you to come up with a plan that will help tackle the issue. This is done through actionable steps with the goal of leading to better outcomes. There are even some online therapy sessions available with convenient meeting times to match any schedule.


There is proof that negative behaviors can be changed with the right program. Whether it is to promote a pattern of behavior change or to simply remove the negative behavior patterns and replace them with something more positive, it is becoming effective.

Talking to a behavior specialist is the first step. Whether it is for yourself or your child, changing those negative behavioral patterns can have major benefits in all areas of life. See what changes can be implemented by making the call today.