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Conditioning (Classical and Operant)

Learning theories propose that behaviors (B) are controlled by their context. Context arising before an instance of the behavior is described as the antecedents (A), and context occurring after the instance of a behavior are described as the consequences (C). Behaviors can be voluntary (e.g., escaping from a situation) or might be involuntary (e.g., an increase in heart rate), or they can be thoughts, emotions, or mental events (e.g., counting in my mind as a form of distraction).
Three major learning theories of relevance to therapists are:
  • operant conditioning describes operant behavior which is controlled by consequences;
  • respondent conditioning (also called classical conditioning or Pavlovian conditioning) describes respondent behavior that is controlled by antecedents;
  • observational learning (vicarious learning) is defined as behavior that results from watching someone else’s behavior be rewarded or punished.
Persons (2008) presents a helpful account of how therapists can use learning theories to formulate their patient’s difficulties. Read more
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Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning is a process by which stimuli become associated with responses. This information handout describes key principles of Classical ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/classical-conditioning/

Information Handout

Coercive Methods For Enforcing Compliance

Individuals who have experienced abuse often focus on their own actions (or inactions) and blame themselves for their own abuse. This client informati ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/coercive-methods-for-enforcing-compliance/

Exercise

Operant Conditioning

Operant conitioning / instrumental learning is a mechanism by which behaviors can be strengthened or weakened over time. This information handout desc ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/operant-conditioning/

Information Handout

Process Focused Case Formulation

The Process-Focused Case Formulation encourages clinicians to make hypotheses regarding mechanisms or processes which they believe may be maintainin ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/process-focused-case-formulation/

Worksheet

Stimulus Discrimination (Audio)

Stimulus Discrimination is designed to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to ‘retrain their brain’ in order to attend automat ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/stimulus-discrimination-audio/

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