WHAT: Behavior is defined as any muscular, glandular, or electrical activity which a dead person cannot perform, including movements and thoughts (Gill & Williams, 2008). When implementing a behavioral plan it’s important to encourage athletes to develop self regulatory behavioral skills. These skills can be used not only in the immediate program but later in life as well. Self regulation is also likely to be more motivating for the individual than regulation strictly from a health professional. In this case study I’ll use self regulation as I set up my own personal behavioral plan.
SO WHAT: There are seven steps to implementing a behavioral plan which include: clarifying the problem, formulating goals for the consultation, designing target behaviors, identifying the maintaining conditions of the target behavior, designing a treatment plan, implementing the plan, and lastly evaluating the success of the plan (Gill & Williams, 2008). As I’m establishing my own personal behavioral plan I will follow these seven steps.
NOW WHAT: The first thing I would do when establishing my own behavioral plan is identify the problem. For myself I can identify lack of motivation to do any kind of aerobic exercise after my daily weight training as a problem. It’s obvious I clearly and specifically defined my problem, which makes it possible to tailor the plan to address all concerns. Some individuals describe their problems too vaguely, which makes it more difficult to create a behavioral plan which addresses the problem. Next I would formulate goals. When working with an individual it’s important to have them set their own performance goals to increase his/her commitment to the program. You should however encourage them to set S.M.A.R.T. goals, which can be reevaluated at any time and changed based on progress. S.M.A.R.T., which stands for smart, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely, is an acronym for a number of ideal criteria that should be considered when setting rehabilitation goals (Siegert, Richard, and Williams, 2004). For my own behavioral plan a good goal for me would be to lower my two mile run time to 13 minutes in one month.
After establishing performance goals I’d design target behaviors, which are specific aspects of the problem that are clearly defined and measurable. When designing these target behaviors the more specific, the better. It’s important to select behaviors that the patient can work actively work towards rather than ones that he/she should not do. For my own behavioral plan one target behavior I can establish is running at least two miles three days per week. After designing target behaviors the next step is understanding why the patient maintains the negative behaviors. The best way of doing this is through the ABC model, which stands for antecedents, behavior, and consequences. Antecedents are the events that occur prior to the person performing the behaviors, which for me may be the weight training I do prior to aerobic exercise. After identifying antecedents one should assess the behavior itself. This can be done in many ways like simply interviewing the patient and asking questions emphasizing the what, when, where, how, and how often of the behavior. Consequences of the behavior or the events that occur as a result of the behavior should be identified next. The consequence of not being motivated to do aerobic exercise has resulted in my two mile run time to increase to 15 minutes.
After you’ve identified the problem, set S.M.A.R.T. goals, designed a target behavior, and identified maintaining conditions you can begin designing a treatment plan. Methods such as reinforcement and relaxation are possible methods for altering the conditions that maintain the target behavior. Reinforcement is any stimulus, event, or condition whose presentation immediately follows a response and increases the frequency of such response (Gill & Williams, 2008). This can be something as simple as money, food, verbal praise, or positive attention. Rewarding activities should be scheduled after every completion of a goal. For me, something as simple as a day of rest may be a positive reinforcer. After you’ve designed a treatment plan it’s time to implement it. As the behavioral plan continues it can be revised as needed based on changes in treatment goals or certain life circumstances.
The final step in implementing a behavioral plan is evaluating the plan. As the plan continues it should be continuously reviewed and revised to ensure progress toward the patients target performance goals. As a patient successfully reaches his/her goals new ones should be formulated. If goals are not being met one may need to reevaluate the variables maintaining the behavior and possible develop a different strategy to help the athlete.
CONCLUSION: As a health care professional you can have an impact on your patients developed behavioral skills. It’s even more important to encourage athletes to develop self regulatory behavioral skills. As I established my own personal behavioral plan it was obvious to me that self regulation can be a very effective behavioral skill. Self regulation can be used not only during a behavioral plan but later in life as well.
Gill, D.L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd Ed.). Champain, IL: Human Kinetics
Siegert, Richard, and William Taylor. "Theoretical aspects of goal-setting and motivation in rehabilitation." Disability and Rehabilitation 26.1 (2004): 1-8. Print.