The Principles of Behavior Modification #3 Punishment

Punishment is one of the basic elements of ‘behavioral modification’.

Unlike reinforcement, ‘punishment’ is when an immediate consequence is given to decrease the frequency of certain behavior. The consequence refers to the application of aversive or unpleasant stimulus or removal of a reinforcer.

Punishment occurs in our daily lives. Not only disciplines from guardians or parents are regarded as punishment but experience of any aversive stimulus can also function as punishment. Examples of punishment include burning oneself from boiling kettle or pricking one’s finger on a sharp edge.

Punishment is a ‘very last measure’ that is applied when there is no progress in positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement to eliminate a target behavior. Adult clients can agree to the application of punishment in their treatment, while in the case of young children, parents’ or guardians’ agreement is required. After the client signs a psychological service agreement, clinicians gather data about a child’s behavioral issues and reinforcers one responds via functional assessment. Finally, a treatment method is chosen, considering the safety of the child and the severity of the child’s behavioral issues.

The Tree Group prepares a specific treatment plan for every individual client. All the clinicians of the Tree Group are thoroughly trained and supervised in advance of any clinical practice. Please refer to the following page for further details of the program:


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