In therapy, it is necessary to comprehensively address the patient’s behavior. Whether your feelings, experiences, thoughts or beliefs, the psychologist must look for what influences the way the person approaching him behaves. In this article we will provide you the information about the Functional behavior analysis.
Functional behavior analysis is a very useful tool that allows identifying the patient’s behaviors, but without neglecting the context in which they occur or what is behind their occurrence. It is a fundamental analysis when planning and directing therapy or psychoeducation processes.
Let’s see what this technique consists of, what it is used for and its characteristics.
What is functional behavior analysis?
People who go to therapy may have varying behaviors that are caused by multiple causes.
Functional behavior analysis allows you to organize the most important patient information. It takes into account the person’s social relationships, their problematic behaviors and the events that gained importance in the origin and maintenance of the problem. After this information is collected, it is intended to seek explanations about problematic behaviors with the intention of finding a solution.
To better understand this tool, it is necessary to explain a little more about what should be understood by behavior . This concept includes observable and covert patient behaviors. Not only are the physical actions taken by the person taken into account, such as excessive smoking or drug use; your beliefs and thoughts about the problem also become important.
The psychologist is not only responsible for detecting what is not adaptable in the patient. You must find an explanation why the person behaves this way, relating it to events that happened before, that is, the background. Thus, when carrying out the functional analysis of behavior, it is necessary to find the relationships between what was experienced by the person and their current behavior .
To exemplify this, let’s imagine two people who are doing the same behavior: they don’t eat at dinner time. Although both are basically behaving the same way, in such an analysis we not only detect this specific behavior, but also try to find out why they are doing it.
It could be that one of them doesn’t eat dinner simply because he’s had a snack and isn’t hungry, while the other could be fat and decided to eat less.
Schematically, the aspects that meet the functional analyzes of behavior are the following :
- Identify antecedents and consequent behavior.
- Identify the variables that influence the person.
- Formulate hypotheses about the behavior of the problem.
- Describe the behaviors.
When performing an analysis of this type, two types of hypotheses can be raised: origin hypothesis and maintenance hypothesis . The first tries to clarify how the behavior of the problem originated, taking into account the contextual elements present at the time of the problem. Maintenance hypotheses attempt to explain why the behavior is still practiced today, what elements reinforced it, or why it has not yet gone extinct.
As this type of analysis works with hypotheses, it is very important for the psychologist to be rigorous and objective. Furthermore, as the therapy evolves, new information will emerge , with which it will be necessary to rethink the problem that the patient initially arrived at and reformulate the explanations focused on the development of an intervention plan.
Characteristics of Functional behavior analysis
Functional behavior analysis is a very useful tool, as it differs from a mere descriptive analysis by meeting the following characteristics :
1. It’s functional
Although the first thing that is usually done is to identify and describe behaviors, this is done with a functional intent. That is, the aim is to gather information to explain the problem and develop a therapeutic or educational action plan , and does not study static elements, but rather events and actions that can be located in time.
2. It focuses on the present
Taking personal history into account is an important aspect; however, we must focus on how the patient behaves now .
3. Study the relationships
The functional analysis of behavior is based on the observation of relationships between behavioral events (emitted by the subject) and environmental events (that occur around him).
Therefore, he does not focus only on the individual, but sees him as part of reality interconnected with his environment , contrary to what happens with psychological research proposals based on introspection.
Especially important are the behaviors that significantly interfere with the person’s well-being, so it will be necessary to focus therapy on resolving these behaviors.
4. is dynamic
Human behavior is a bit fickle. The patient may evolve as psychotherapy develops. Furthermore, it may be that the patient himself did not initially provide all the information necessary to understand his psychological discomfort.
That is why the psychologist must be aware that the hypotheses raised at the beginning can be refuted and must reformulate them based on new information.
5. It’s ideographic
Each person is different in terms of their personality, behavior and experiences.
The hypotheses raised after the analysis of the behaviors can only explain why the behavior of the person analyzed , since it is linked to a chain of unique and unrepeatable events, which leave an imprint on their learning history.
That is, what is discovered in a person is difficult to generalize to the rest of the population.
- Maybe you’re interested: “The 4 differences between the ideographic and nomothetic approach”
6. It is heuristic
Basically, this type of analysis is a scheme that describes the behavior of the person , through which we organize the information obtained about him. It is not intended to describe human reality, only that of the patient who came to the office.
7. It’s hypothetical
While the ideal is to be able to accurately explain why the person behaves the way they do, functional behavior analysis is still a hypothesis-raising tool.
That is, what is believed to be the origin of the problem and what causes it to remain can be modified, it is not information that implies a clear and immovable causality .