Mcc670 behavior & learning models

Overview of Hypotheses

“The Hypotheses in this chapter apply models of learning from experimental and social psychology: operant conditioning, respondent conditioning and social learning theory.” (Ingram, 2012). I’ve reviewed these elsewhere for the NCE exam.

Antecedents & Consequences (BL1)

Overview & Key Concepts

The treatment plan should be based on an analysis of Antecedents (triggers) and Consequences (reward and punishment). “Interventions based on functional analysis of behavior. Strategies of behavioral change based on studies from operant conditioning” (Ingram, 2012, p. 158). B.F Skinner’s theory stated behavior is a function of its consequence. Triggers are stimuli that causes behavior to happen. Positive and negative reinforcement allow us to control behavior. Applied behavioral analysis allows us to gather data based on these concepts and design interventions accordingly. Useful with children (i.e. Autistic child with disruptive mood disorder)

Step #1: Define Problem Behavior

What are the problem behaviors? Is it related to a skill deficit or trigger? Can you clarify the behavior in a clear and measurable fashion?

Step #2: Identify Antecedents

What stimulus occurs before the specific behavior? It can be a biological condition, emotional state, or cognitive trigger.

Step #3: Identify Consequences

What sort of rewards and/or punishments serve to explain why the individual engages in the specific behavior? How is behavior reinforced?

Step #4: Examine Sociocultural environment

What cultural norms exist and how would you characterize the client’s support system. In what way do these factors also play a role in the client’s behaviors.

Step #5: conduct a cost/benefit analysis

This involves examining how the above factors weigh in the client’s decisions to behave? Clarify the weight and sequence of these factors play in the overall decisional equation. Ingram, (2012) defined functional analysis as an “analysis of specific contingencies that maintain problem behaviors along with an analysis of the necessary contingencies for the desired behavior to replace the problem behavior.” (Ingram, 2012). The payoff can be a means of escape from something negative. Or it can provide a tangible reward (i.e. Sensory and/or attention-getting benefit). These steps allow us to develop a treatment plan.

The Treatment Plan

The goals of this hypothesis are fairly straightforward and involve either increasing desired behaviors or decreasing undesirable behaviors. Homework assignments between sessions are useful alongside the gathering of data that the client can examine to clearly see the benefits of all interventions. Ingram, (2012) also discusses common strategies such as +/- reinforcement, contingency contract, etc. Finally, if the client remains noncompliance, it may be useful to utilize another hypothesis (p4 or p1).

Conditioned Emotional Responses BL2

Overview & Key Concepts

This hypothesis is based on Pavlov’s theory and concepts such as conditioned/unconditioned responses or extinction. Conditioned Emotional Responses are often at the core of extreme distressful responses or maladaptive behaviors. “There is an intense emotional response that is not justified by the stimuli in the current environment, along with a lack of cognitive mediation, we can infer that prior learning involved classical conditioning” (Ingram, 2012, p. 172).

is this a good match

“There are many situations where extreme emotional reactions are justified, as with traumatic events (discussed under C2), deaths and other losses (C4), and social injustice (SCES). Similarly, intense emotional reactions accompany developmental transitions (CS3), loneliness and social isolation (SCE3), and changes in one’s social environment and required social role (SCE4)” (Ingram, 2012, p. 173)

Treatment Planning

Usually involves some form of systematic desensitization of anxiety-producing situations where the trigger is paired with relaxation responses. However, beforehand this should first include some relaxation training. Followed by the development of a fear hierarchy from lowest to highest. This can then allow the therapist to utilize a gradual exposure plan.

Skill Deficits (BL3)

Overview & Key Concepts

This hypothesis is useful if skill deficits exist and the client requires to gain competency in a particular area. The treatment goals tend to center around providing opportunities for learning. Sample problem areas can include anger management or social skills. This hypothesis is based on Bandue’s conditioning principals which state that we learn by observing and mimicking others.

treatment planning

“It may be helpful to orient the client to the ‘learner role’, which requires an acceptance that achievement of proficiency requires effort, practice, and acceptance of mistakes” (Ingram, 2012). The first step involves the evaluation of the client’s skill level. This requires an identification and clarification of the problem then brainstorming solutions. Graduated tasks and homework are essential with the utilization of a step-by-step plan. Behavioral rehearsal is an essential component of this process. Ingram, (2012), suggests that interpersonal therapy or DBT.


Ingram, B.L. (2012). Clinical Case Formulations: Matching the Integrative Treatment ​Plan to the Client. (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Share This: