Behavioral Therapy Essay

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Elizabeth Carollo Psychology 101 Professor Richardson 04/16/2014
Behavioral Therapy
Behavioral therapy is therapy that applies learning principles to the elimination of unwanted behavior (Meyers2014.) Behaviorism, also called “The Behavior Approach”, based on a number of assumptions regarding methodology and behavioral analysis. This was the primary approach in psychology between the 1920’s to the 1950’s. People are born with a blank slate “tabula rasa”. Behaviorism suggests that all behavior is learned from the environment and symptoms are acquired through Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning. In classical conditioning, people learn by association. These associations are known to be the cause of most phobias. Learning by using a reward system is known Operant Conditioning. The reward can be the reinforcement to positive or negative behavior.
However it is not an absolute fact that symptoms reflect a single underlying cause. Psychology should be seen as a science. Theories need to be supported by understandable data gathered through observing the patient in a careful and controlled environment in order to measure the behavior. Watson stated that “psychology as a behaviorist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is … prediction and control”. He also stated:
“Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief, and yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. (1925: 82)”
To prove his theory Watson did an experiment with classical conditioning. He used a 9 month old infant “Little Albert” to conduct this experiment using various stimuli. He was shown a variety of different things such as a white rabbit, a monkey and some masks. At first “Little Albert” showed no