Rewards and Punishments: the role of operant conditioning in human behavior

B.F. Skinner

From minimizing a dog’s barking to training dogs to serve as human companions to law enforcement’s drug detectors; from shaping the behavior of children and adults with autism to all stages of the educational ladder, B.F. Skinner’s Operant Conditioning is used to shape both human and animal behavior.  We all use Operant Conditioning to mold the behavior of those around […]

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Understanding Classical Conditioning

[Brief look at Ivan Pavlov's experiment:  before conditioning:  food = salivation; bell = no reaction.  During conditioning, bell sounded before food presented.  After conditioning:  repeated presentation of bell + food has caused dog to learn that bell indicates food is coming.  As a result, the sound of the bell alone causes the dog to salivate.]

For undergraduate students of psychology, Classical Conditioning, a learning theory made famous by Ivan Pavlov in the early 20th century, is probably one of the harder learning concepts to master.  The theory is complicated.  Couple this with instructors’ over-reliance on using Ivan Pavlov’s dog experiment in explaining the theory and you have countless students spending many sleepless nights trying to […]

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Confidentiality and Parent(s)’ Right to Know

Confidentiality and Parent(s)' Right to Know

This article is part 2 of “If I told you about me, would you…Psychotherapy and Confidentiality” Parents bring their child(ren) to therapy in the hopes that in doing so they would learn what their child(ren) are doing and thinking.  In a way, making the psychotherapist a pseudo-spy for the parents.  This approach to therapy, however, may end up being more […]

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Understanding Anger

The Nature of Anger

“Anger Management problem” is a catch phrase used to describe a person who suffers from chronic angry outbursts.  These angry outbursts may take the form of screaming and yelling to breaking and throwing items to outright physical violence against another.  People who bear the brunt of the person’s anger often feel helpless and find themselves constantly on the guard.  They […]

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If I told you about me, would you… Psychotherapy and Confidentiality

If I told you about me, would you...

At the very heart of a Marriage and Family Therapist or psychotherapist-client relationship is trust. After all, the client is expected to discuss with the psychotherapist his innermost thoughts and feelings regarding himself and his views of others.  Without this sense of trust that the psychotherapist will keep the client’s confidence, psychotherapy will not nor can it progress. Holding the […]

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Depression: When sadness becomes a habit

clinical_psychotherapist_depression

To be sad is a common human emotion. For most, sadness is often preceeded and followed by mostly happy moments at times within the same day or hour. There are, however, many whose sadness blanket their every waking moment. Tearfulness, regret, feeling tired, a sense of being alone, inescapable sense of helplessness and hopelessness, inability to feel pleasure in what […]

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WHO ARE YOU …?

The mask

In our culture that is driven by material ownership, oftentimes we associate the things we possess, and sometimes even people we choose to surround ourselves, as the sole determinant of who we are.  In discussions, lacking anything of substance to say about ourselves, we cite the accomplishments of our friends, the things we own — cars, jewelry, clothing, home, our […]

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The difference between a psychiatrist, psychologist and psychotherapist

The difference between a psychiatrist, psychologist and psychotherapist

Just what is the difference between a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a psychotherapist? In conversations with non-therapists, I have noticed that many, if not most, often use these titles interchangeably, albeit incorrectly, to describe a person who works in the field of psychology. This article attempts to shed light on the differences and similarities between these fields of psychology and, […]

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The psychotherapist and the client: demystifying therapy

The psychotherapist and the client: demystifying therapy

Mental illness is a pretty lonely place to be.  The demons that reside and runs wild within the sufferer’s mind gives no rest especially for those afflicted with more serious forms of mental illness, e.g., panic disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, etc. First things first:  what is mental illness?  “Mental illness” or being “mentally ill” is an unfortunate […]

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Coping with a child with maladaptive behavior

Coping with a child with maladaptive behavior

Child(ren) with maladaptive behavior and/or psychiatric diagnosis living at home affect a family’s stress level and emotional well being. Theories abound, and numerous studies have shown, that a family’s socioeconomic status, coping mechanism, means of communication, and overall emotional stability exert influence on a child’s behavior and future coping skills. Being born into and growing up in a socioeconomically disadvantaged […]

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Practice of Marriage and Family Therapy in California (B&P § 4982)

law

Laws are enacted to govern the activities of professions and to ensure the safety of the public.  However, the effectiveness of the laws only extend as far as the public’s knowledge of them.  With the intent of educating consumers of the limitations of the practice of Marriage and Family Therapy, below is the California Business and Professions Code section 4982 […]

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Inexplicable Fear: the face of panic disorder

Inexplicable Fear: the face of panic disorder

Panic Disorder (PD) is a common anxiety disorder that affects approximately 5% of the adult population and 10% to 15% of children and adolescents.  Because of the high prevalence rate and physical manifestations of Panic Disorder, there is a great economic cost to society resulting from frequent absenteeism, loss of work productivity, substance abuse, and recurrent visits to emergency rooms.  […]

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Understanding and Treating Panic Disorder in Children and Adolescents (a meta analysis)

Understanding and Treating Panic Disorder in Children and Adolescents

Panic Disorder is a common anxiety disorder that affects approximately 5% of the population at any given point in time. Because of Panic Disorder’s high rate of prevalence and its physical manifestations, there is a high economic cost to society resulting from frequent absenteeism, less work productivity, substance abuse as well as recurrent visits to emergency rooms. Recent studies have […]

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What is Psychotherapy?

What is Psychotherapy?

Overview:  in sum, “psychotherapy” is “talk therapy.”  Psychotherapy is an exploratory journey undertaken by the psychotherapist and the client into the client’s mindset to help the client discover, from the client’s perspective, the sources of the symptoms, the client’s own contribution to the presenting problems, and to develop alternative coping strategies in response thereto. Psychotherapy is the relationship between a […]

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