Behavior Therapy in a Multicultural Setting

Behavioral approach is based on the principle of explaining one’s behavior through observation. Through observation an individual is able to mimic the behaviors of others – a process more commonly known as learning. It is further believed that behavior is affected by our environment. Since behavior is learned, it can also be unlearned. This is one of the benefits of the behavioral approach.

Therefore, behavior which is harmful to the society or runs against socially accepted norms may still be unlearned. As for behavior which serves to improve the state of the person, such behavior can be enhanced.

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The process of learning and changing a person’s environment are strong tools of behavioral therapists enabling them to address the particular needs of their clients. There are four major aspects of behavior therapy – (1) classical conditioning, (2) operant conditioning, (3) social learning theory, and (4) cognitive behavior therapy. Classical conditioning is the use of significant associations to moderate behavior. Operant conditioning is the use of consequences to alter the condition and form of behavior. Cognitive behavior therapy is based on altering mental processes and behaviors, with the aim of influencing disturbed emotions.
These can be applied in the work because these methods are not culture-specific. In a culturally diverse population, all except the social learning approach can be used for counseling. Social learning theory gives prominence to the reciprocal interactions between an individual’s behavior and the environment. This theory requires that individuals mimic observed actions after undergoing a process of understanding and internalizing the observed behavior. Since people coming from different cultures are exposed to different kinds of accepted behaviors, their internalization and understanding of social norms are also different.
When counseling multi-racial individuals therefore, a view as to the particular culture from which the individuals came from must be taken. References Dayan, P. , Kakade, S. , & Montague, P. R. (2000). Learning and selective attention. Nature Neuroscience 3, 1218 – 1223. Kirsch, I. , Lynn, S. J. , Vigorito, M. & Miller, R. R. (2004). The role of cognition in classical and operant conditioning. Journal of Clinical Psychology 60, 369 – 392. McSweeney, F. K. , Hinson, J. M, & Cannon, C. B. (1996). Sensitization-habituation may occur during op

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