Behaviourists reject the idea that behaviour disorders are symptoms of hidden emotional conflicts that must be uncovered and resolved. They argue that the behaviour disorder is the problem, not a symptom of the problem. If a therapist can teach a person to respond more appropriately, they feel he has “cured” him. Behaviour therapies are based on the belief that all behaviour, normal and abnormal, is learned.
For instance, the hypochondriac has learned that he gets attention when he is sick; the catatonic has learned that he is safe when he withdraws entirely. The therapists’ job is to extinguish such inappropriate responses and to teach the person more satisfying ways of behaving. He does not need to know how or why the person learned to behave as he does. Behavioural counselling as a technique is based on the principle of learning. The most important contribution to behavioural counselling has been made by Pavlov, Skinner, Wolpe and John D. Kumboltz who believed that neurotic behaviour is acquired and is subject to the established laws of learning.
Goal: The goal of behavioural counselling is to change particular behaviour efficiently and specifically. The Counselling Process: Blackhom and Silverman have suggested the following steps of behavioural counselling:
The counsellor should specifically define the problem—all the circumstances regarding the inappropriate behaviour should be identified. (ii) Development and social history of the problem should be prepared.
The client and the counsellor should come to an agreement as to what the problem actually is.
It is the counsellor’s responsibility to decide if the goal is within his realm of expertise and in accordance with ethical behaviour.
The techniques used in the counselling, consistent with the client’s goals, need to be selected.