Focus on Traditional Behavioral Modification
Behavioral modification is based on a number of different theories and research studies. It was influenced by the classical conditioning principles set forth by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov, theories set forth by American B. F. Skinner, and the work of psychiatrist Joseph Wolpe.
Pavlov was most famous for training dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell — a case of rewarding and shaping behavior that usually cannot be deliberately controlled. Pavlov demonstrated how such learned responses can be suppressed. This has implications for treating emotional reactions.
Skinner was a pioneer in the field of operant conditioning, which believes that behavior generally understood as conscious and intentional is modified by changing the response it elicits. Wolpe was famous for his pioneering efforts in the areas of desensitization and assertiveness training. By the 1970s, behavior therapy was widely used in treating a variety of mental conditions, including depression, anxiety, phobias, and ADHD.
While many therapists today who treat adult ADHD have switched to CBT or IPT therapy, traditional behavioral modification remains popular for treating children with ADHD and is also very effective in institutional settings such as prisons, which are already highly structured and where rewards and punishments can take the form of basic life needs like meals and exercise.