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"Explain Concepts from the Behaviourist perspective and evaluate strengths and limitations of this perspective in relation to understanding and caring for patients"

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Introduction

200173340 HECS 1021 Introduction to Psychology "Explain Concepts from the Behaviourist perspective and evaluate strengths and limitations of this perspective in relation to understanding and caring for patients" 17/01/2006 Explain Concepts from the Behaviourist perspective and evaluate strengths and limitations of this perspective in relation to understanding and caring for patients. The aim of this essay is to highlight the importance of behavioural psychology in healthcare and consider how healthcare professionals can employ behaviourist techniques to help their clients. Cardwell (2000 page 202) describes psychology as the "scientific study of mind and behaviour". From this definition it may not seem obvious as to why psychology is important in healthcare; however the World Health Organisation defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" (WHO 1946 cited in Banyard 2002). It is clear from this definition that healthcare professionals should not only seek to ensure that their clients have a healthy body, but that they should also have a healthy mind and engage in healthy behaviour and it is for this reason every healthcare professional should have a good understanding of psychology and how psychology can be used to help clients. This essay will firstly give a brief introduction to the behaviourist perspective, then move on to describe how classical and operant conditioning can explain the formation of behaviour and finally move on to examine the classical and operant conditioning theories that can be used by healthcare professionals to help their clients. ...read more.

Middle

Every healthcare professional should be aware that they can help to change their client's behaviour through the way they respond towards their behaviour and so tailor their responses to reward and therefore promote positive health behaviour and disregard negative health behaviour. This is especially true in children because behavioural psychologists argue that from a very young age children learn all their voluntary behaviour through operant conditioning and healthcare professionals can use this to mould their behaviour by reinforcing and rewarding the good health behaviour whilst ignoring the bad health behaviour. Behaviour therapies are based on the principles of classical conditioning and include systematic desensitization, implosion therapy and aversion therapy. Systematic desensitization attempts to reduce anxiety towards a feared object by first training the client to relax and then slowly exposing them to situations involving the feared object that increase with intensity over time (Hayes 1988). The hope is that the client will learn to relax in situations where the feared object is present and therefore their levels of anxiety will decrease to a point where the object no longer produces a fear response (Malim 1992). Systematic desensitization was first demonstrated in 1924 when a behavioural psychologist named Jones successfully used the process of classical conditioning to remove a 2 year olds fear of rabbits (Gross 1993). Jones (1924 cited in Gross 1993) began by placing a cage with a rabbit inside in front of the little boy while he ate his lunch. Gradually Jones was able to move the cage closer to the little boy and eventually after about 40 sessions the rabbit sat on the little boy's lap while he ate his lunch (Gross 1993). ...read more.

Conclusion

Token economy has also been used with schizophrenics and autistic children with good success but it proves to be expensive and often the encouraged behaviour will cease once the treatment stops. To conclude, behaviourism not only provides answers to why certain behaviours are formed but also gives healthcare professionals methods to help their clients modify and adapt their behaviour. It is a scientific approach that comes with all the benefits and indeed all the problems of a scientific perspective. To overcome the weaknesses in behaviourism healthcare professionals should seek to use an eclectic approach when treating their clients, for example using the humanistic approach of individuality and free will to overcome the reductionist and deterministic approach of behaviourism. Word count - 2,448 Reference list Aitken, V. (1996) Behavioural Sciences for Health Professionals. London: W.B. Saunders. Banyard, P. (2002) Health (Psychology in Practice). London: Hodder and Stoughton. Cardwell, M (2000) the Complete A to Z Psychology Handbook. 2nd Edition. London: Hodder and Stoughton. Cave, S. (1999) Therapeutic Approaches in Psychology. London; New York: Routledge. Davenport, G.C. (1994) an Introduction to Child Development. 2nd Edition. London: Colins Educational. Gross, R.D. (1992) Psychology: the Science of Mind and Behaviour. 2nd Edition. London: Hodder and Stoughton. Hayes, N. (1988) a First Course in Psychology. Walton-on-Thames: Nelson. Malim, T. (1992) Perspectives in Psychology. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan. Roth, I. (1990) The Open University's Introduction to Psychology. Volume one. Hove: Erlbaum, in association with the Open University. Rungapadiachy, D.M. (1999) Interpersonal communication and psychology for health care professionals: theory and practice. Oxford: Butterworth- Heinemann. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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