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Abnormal Behavior Management in Adolescents Case Study

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Updated: Apr 25th, 2021


Possession of an anti-social demeanor is a trait that can be traced to have its rudiment causes by psychological processes involving thought, sense, and real-life experiences. Scholars have developed theories that are paramount in understanding the causes and persistence of certain behavioral abnormalities in humans. To alleviate psychological anomalies, the best possible solution is behavior change. Various therapies have been advanced based on theoretical philosophies that explain the development of anti-social behaviors in humans. To analyze the behavior abnormalities and appropriate counseling methods, this essay identifies a behavior case of a 15-year-old male client.

Behavioral Patterns of the Client

The context of this essay is based on the behavioral patterns of 15-year old Denny. I am acquaintance with the client’s family; hence, I have interacted with him since childhood. Earlier on, Denny was lively and participated actively in social interactions. However, he has lately developed social fears on various occasions. In addition, the Denny does not attend social gatherings, and if present in any, his voice is rarely heard. His recent behavioral patterns have raised concern among many parties including teachers, friends, and parents.

In a recent meeting that was aimed at identifying the rudiment cause of Denny’s sudden behavioral change, various factors were identified. At the outset, the case was a behavioral change due to external influences. His new behaviors can better be described as possession of shyness in public, gloominess, lack of interest in important social gatherings, and expression of fear when talking to peers, teachers, and foreigners. He also exhibits intensive thinking that is perceived to steal his concentration. Secondly, Denny’s case cannot be classified as a Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) since only the occurrence of particular behavioral changes has resulted in the expression of fear in social appearances. In addition, none of the members in the family lineage has ever suffered or shown signs of SAD. Furthermore, the client has been known for his extroversive social skills during interactions with family members, friends, and peers. Although he has been proficient in social interactions, the boy has now withdrawn from peers and boycotts the regular weekend picnics organized by friends. For instance, he recently boycotted his friend’s birthday party that was hosted just a few miles from their home.

Finally, it was realized that the state of the situation was worsening and affecting Denny’s social life, academics, and relationship with family members, friends, and teachers. The boy seemed unpleased and helpless in such situations. Relatives and close friends had also expressed concerns over the boy’s behavior. The theories in the following sections provide a detailed explanation of the client’s behavioral patterns.

Cognitive Behavioral Theory

A review of the cognitive-behavioral theory provides an in-depth analysis of this case.Cognition is referred to as the process of acquiring knowledge through experiences, senses, perceptions, and thought. The use of the concept is appropriate for explaining and finding possible solutions for Denny’s behavior. The underlying assumption in this theory is that thoughts cause emotions and behavior.

Denny’s case is an emotional schema of the boy’s cognitive perception of the surrounding social environment (Lipton, Augenstein, Weeks, & De Los Reyes, 2014). According to McLeod (2008), a change of behavior can be instigated by cognitive thoughts. In the above case, it was realized that several emotional factors probably contributed to the behavioral patterns of Denny. During the meeting with the boy, it was identified he suffered from peer victimization. As a result, the boy avoided all social interactions involving not only rivals but also close friends. This situation implies an impacted behavioral response. In this case, victimization can be termed as the rudiment factor that triggered emotional responses and the sudden change of behavior (McLeod, 2008). According to the cognitive-behavioral theory, the wrong perception of peers during social interactions trigger emotional responses (Johnston & Warkentin, 2010).

The fear of talking in public has been caused by the sensitive reactions triggered by the negative evaluation of the public and general criticism. In this case, the client finds it hard to cope with peers; hence, free interaction is limited. Lack of interest in attending social settings was a reciprocator response to the boy’s perspective on peers. The intense emotional responses resulted in avoidance and adoption of the solitary lifestyle (Johnston & Warkentin, 2010).

Techniques for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

McLeod (2008) reveals that the Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT) is based on cognizance, emotional responses, and action. Healthy thoughts instigate constructive emotional and behavioral responses. On the other hand, unconstructive thoughts lead to dysfunctional emotions and behaviors (Wills 2009). People change their comportments because of faulty perceptions of themselves, others, and the world. However, irrational thoughts can be countered through the application of cognitive therapy (McLeod, 2008).

Behavioral Technique

Beck’s cognitive therapy is appropriate for alleviating Denny’s behavior (Wills, 2009). According to the theory, persistent irrational thoughts lead to abnormal behaviors. According to Wills (2009), the behavioral model reveals that selectivity, exaggeration, and overgeneralization are primary contributors to emotional anomalies. Application of behavioral procedures such as shaping, modeling, and contingent reinforcement will increase the client’s interactions in social settings (Wills, 2009).

Self-monitoring and Reinforcement

This technique requires the client to keep a stream of their cognitive responses in reaction to the adverse events. They are made to understand that possession of irrational thoughts about the events will always lead to emotional and behavioral disturbances. The CBT method helps the client recognize faulty cognitions that cause these abnormalities (McLeod, 2008).

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT)

The REBT theory focuses on the psychotherapeutic system to explain emotional and behavioral problems. A concise analysis of the theoretical assumptions of REBT can elucidate the cause of certain behaviors and underpinning factors for their persistence in humans. The theory supports that humans are adversely affected by their views of reality through the evaluation of beliefs, language, meanings, and ideas in the real world, others, and themselves (Whitfield, 2006). Further elaboration of this theory can explain the concept of psychological disturbance and change. In this case, the ABC model expounds that the experience of adversity can be attributed to irrational evaluation and perception of unfavorable environments (Whitfield, 2006).

According to RBT, people believe (B) that adversity (A) reciprocates the resultant emotional and behavioral consequence (C). This concept explains why humans exhibit either rational or irrational cues when faced with circumstances that influence their behavior. Whitfield (2006) posits that rational cues are realized through the possession of affirmative consequences that are self-helping, socially beneficial, and constructive. Irrational cues are brought about by undesirable evaluations of the causative agent. They include self-defeating, antisocial manners, and unaccommodating inclinations. Destructive tendencies compel people to inhibit emotional and behavioral disturbances such as depression, anxiety, procrastination, avoidance, withdrawal, and addiction (McLeod, 2008).

Techniques for Rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT)

The Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) aims at assuring and restoring the emotional status of a client despite the adverse challenges that they have experienced. Individuals have a choice to be happy and maintain healthy emotions in spite of provocative encounters. This therapy helps individuals acquire rational and constructive beliefs about themselves and their surroundings.

Techniques for disposing of irrational thoughts

According to McLeod (2008), this technique aims at making the client realize that their emotional problems are partly caused by their dysfunctional philosophies and beliefs of the activating agent. It entails the application of logic, reality testing, and pragmatic questions. Logic questions enable the client to seek clarity in their negative cognition. For instance, this situation can be demonstrated using the sentence, “you said she doesn’t love you”. However, reality testing questions help the client evaluate his beliefs with authenticity. For example, “what will be the consequences if…?” Finally, pragmatic questions compel the client to gauge the worth of their beliefs that result in the consequences. For example, “How has thinking contributed to your current state?” (Whitfield, 2006).

Deductive interpretation technique

RBT seeks to help the client counter self-defeating tendencies. Furthermore, clients are prepared to deal with similar adversaries in the near future. They have to work towards replacing the negative consequences with functional and self-helping leanings (McLeod, 2008). The client will be guided to change their cognition and perception of being teased, victimized, and negatively evaluated. Therefore, they can do things that enable them to cope with such treatments (Whitfield, 2006).


The above case shows reveal that external factors can instigate particular behavioral patterns. Although, it can be normal to shy off in social gatherings and interactions with the public, an intense expression of fears in public and avoidance of social interactions is regarded as abnormal behavior. The case of Denny in the abovementioned example is because of peripheral influences that affect his social interaction adversely. The behavioral patterns have been theoretically elaborated using the cognitive-behavioral theory (CBT) and the rational emotional therapy (RBT) in an attempt to explain their suitability in alleviating adverse reactions based on their underlying assumptions.

References List

Johnston, A., & Warkentin, M. (2010). Fear Appeals and Information Security Behaviors: An Empirical Study. MIS Quarterly, 34(3), 549-54.

Lipton, M., Augenstein, T., Weeks, J., & De Los Reyes, A. (2014). A Multi-informant Approach to Assessing Fear of Positive Evaluation in Socially Anxious Adolescents. Journal of Child & Family Studies, 23(7), 1247-1257.

McLeod, S. (2008). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Web.

Whitfield, H. (2006). Towards case-specific applications of mindfulness-based cognitive-behavioral therapies: A mindfulness-based rational emotive behavior therapy. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 19(2), 205-217.

Wills, F. (2009). Beck’s Cognitive Therapy: Distinctive Features. London: Routledge.

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