Behavior Theory and Narritive Theory Compared

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This paper will compare behavior theory and narrative theory. It will cover the key concepts, the practice process, and the major interventions of each theory. An application of each theory will be included. This paper also contains a practice case and a set of illustrations using both theories for this practice case.

Practice Case Using Behavioral and Narrative theories

Susanne Langston

University of New England

Abstract

This paper will compare behavior theory and narrative theory. It will cover the key concepts, the practice process, and the major interventions of each theory. An application of each theory will be included. This paper also contains a practice case and a set of illustrations using both theories for this practice case.

A Practice Case Using Behavior Therapy and a Narrative Approach

My case is a 13 year old male named "Jay." Jay has experienced depression since the divorce of his parents. He seems to have a lot of hostility as evidenced by his cruelty towards animals which started about 6 months after the break up. His dad lives in Pennsylvanian and Jay lives here with his mother. He talks to his dad often but has stated that he wants to kill his father and has even made threats to him. His mother seems to be putting Jay in the middle of it all, he loves his dad but he wants to remain loyal to his mother. He is extremely small for his age and has to take growth hormone shots. He has one half-brother who is the same age as his dad. Jay's mother is 20 years older than his father. Jay has a very hard time controlling his emotions and will often burst out in tears in the classroom. Even with the knowledge of the animal abuse and the threats, Jay comes across as a very gentle and sweet boy. He craves attention and shuts down if he doesn't get it. He doesn't like school and is often very slow to complete tasks required of him by his teacher. He doesn’t see any of his problems as being his fault, but rather the fault of his father.

Comparative Summary

Both behavioral and narrative theory could work well for Jay. Behavioral theory works well with children and narrative theory works well with children who have had trauma. They are different in that behavioral theory doesn’t focus on the mental aspect of a person but solely on behavior, and narrative theory’s focus is on the internal (mental) life story.

Key Concepts of Behavioral Theory

According to Walsh (2010), the key concepts of behavior theory are based on what a person does that can be observed. This includes what the person does, thinks, or even feels, if it observed. Mental activity is focused on less than behavior because it cannot be observed. Assessments should focus on observable events. People naturally seek pleasure and try to avoid pain. People are often likely to behave in ways that produce encouraging responses. The way people behave is based on their learning, by watching how others behave, and by feedback from their environment. The behavior must be defined in terms of measurement in order for a change to happen. Intervention focuses on reinforcements or punishment for the behavior. When explaining the behavior is it best to use the simplest terms possible.

Key Concepts of a Narrative Approach

According to Walsh (2010), the key concepts of narrative theory are as follows. People’s lives are shaped by their stories and their stories are shaped by their lives. The narrative theory takes in to account the impact that relationships have with others but surprisingly it ignores the concept of systems. The narrative theory is different from other theories in that others theories maintain that no matter how much a person changes they are still their “self.” Narrative theory suggests that a person is in a “being”...
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