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Old 12-21-2018, 11:33 PM #1
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Default Therapy = Complex Version of Dog Training?

So the other day I wrote this to T...and I wanted to share because I’m curious to see what y’all have to say about this...:P

“I had a thought earlier…so you know how I was describing how I was training [dog] by rewarding good behavior and ignoring bad behavior? You know, textbook operant conditioning stuff. Then I was realizing…that’s not too much different than what you did with me lol. Because basically, what you did is that you wouldn’t let me have what I wanted, aka talking to you, because of the behavior, so in operant conditioning world I believe that would be negative punishment (which I feel like comes with a negative connotation because of the nature of those two words, but I use it in a purely terminological way), i.e. taking away something away I wanted because you didn’t want to encourage the behavior. What I did with [dog] was a different subset, positive reinforcement, but it works the same, regardless. Because I guess the positive reinforcement today was that when I acted in an effective way, I got to talk to you. So basically, I learned that not only did I not get to talk about what was originally upsetting me, but also that all I really got myself was two days of misery and lost productivity for acting out, whereas I likely would’ve gotten to talk to you on Tuesday or Wednesday if I hadn’t acted out…so yes, I see the consequences to my own behavior…and yes I will think about that next time I consider doing this…and so yes, your tactic was effective…even though I was so, so angry and upset because of it yesterday…But what I was doing isn’t unlike what [dog] does when I leave. She acts out/throws a tantrum by barking incessantly (which unfortunately effects many people…), where as I threw my “adult” version of a temper tantrum by doing pretty much every self-destructive behavior I could conjure up in that time period. So yeah…I know what I did…I get why you did what you did…and although I didn’t like it at the time, it was effective. Because reward and punishment is easy to understand. Actually, if I remember correctly, it’s one of the earliest stages of cognitive development, being able to learn that way. But yeah…tangents aside…I learned that humans can be trained like dogs, and that therapy is pretty much a much more complex version of dog training…lol jk. It would be seriously great (and also not so great) if our minds were as simplistic as that of a dog. Too bad we have these things called association cortices, a limbic system, and god knows what else that are way more complex than that of a dog, and make us have complex abstract thoughts. I blame primarily the prefrontal cortex on this one.”
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Old 12-22-2018, 12:05 AM #2
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Default Re: Therapy = Complex Version of Dog Training?

This makes absolutely perfect sense. It's exactly what I've been thinking about too.
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Old 12-22-2018, 02:28 AM #3
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Default Re: Therapy = Complex Version of Dog Training?

I don't recognise that in my therapy.
When T continued to respond gently to me and still allow me to reach out to her during one of my less than better days. I felt totally lost. I had been raised by damaged adult children that reacted to me. To have a functioning adult respond and continue to treat me with respect no matter Mt behaviour was a Hugh difference in my life.
Find a functioning adult. Not an adult child Thats jumped into the mental health field to satisfy themselves.
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Old 12-22-2018, 03:34 AM #4
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Default Re: Therapy = Complex Version of Dog Training?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MRT6211 View Post
So the other day I wrote this to T...and I wanted to share because I’m curious to see what y’all have to say about this...:P

“I had a thought earlier…so you know how I was describing how I was training [dog] by rewarding good behavior and ignoring bad behavior? You know, textbook operant conditioning stuff. Then I was realizing…that’s not too much different than what you did with me lol.
Love this- and agree. I clicker train my dogs new skills , and also use LRS ( Least Reinforcing Scenarios) for mistakes. My T uses LRS on me often; if I say something contrary to deep work we've accomplished, he pauses and goes on with a moment of neutrality, a distinct pause. Like yours , he rewards specific communications with his attention, and ignores others. I do then offer new, different behaviors trying to get back to connection . He once told a story about his son that ended in "Time Out No Cookie". I snickered bc I know the feeling and can more empathize with the kid than the adult in this scenario, as the holiday break feels like time out no cookies to me .

My T dislikes dogs, so he would not be amused by these playful, tongue in cheek comparisons

Esme's T= Dog training

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The Least Reinforcing Scenario is simply a 2-3 second neutral response after an animal gives an unwanted behavior, followed immediately by another opportunity to earn reinforcement. For example, you cue a dog to sit and it lies down instead. Immediately when the dog lies down instead of sits, give a neutral response for 2-3 seconds and then cue the dog to do a different cue that you are positive they can successfully complete.
So what is a neutral response? There is no straight answer to this. It is not a freeze, it is just a continuance of what you are doing – if you are looking at the dog, keep looking at the dog. If you were in the process of scratching an itch, keep scratching the itch. The key is to just maintain the environment so the dog is neither punished nor rewarded. This is only effective for a dog that is accustomed to working in a positive reinforcement environment. When you reward, reward, reward and then don’t, the dog will notice the lack of rewarding. There’s no need to extend the time or get emotional – just 2-3 seconds of a neutral response is enough feedback.
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Old 12-22-2018, 04:14 AM #5
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Default Re: Therapy = Complex Version of Dog Training?

Well I think there are a lot of differences between therapy and dog training, because humans are different to dogs! But I do think your observation is interesting and I think you are right - therapists probably have to tread a carareful line between being supportive of their clients but without inadvertently reinforcing unhelpful behaviours.

The few times that I had episodes of SH, my T didn't act surprised or anything and didn't spend a long time talking about it. He was still nice to me as usual - but I think with hindsight that he was being careful about this. If he had shown a big reaction to SH then at some level that might have become an unhealthy way for me to communicate my pain and my feelings, rather than talking which is a healthier and less destructive way.
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Old 12-22-2018, 05:58 AM #6
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Default Re: Therapy = Complex Version of Dog Training?

It's not really too complex. I spent 25 years as a R+ dog trainer. Dogs and humans are very similar in their learning styles, and yes - both respond well to positive reinforcement. Dogs also have very well documented physiological responses to stress and triggers. In fact, many dogs are euthanized every year because of this.
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Old 12-22-2018, 06:04 AM #7
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Default Re: Therapy = Complex Version of Dog Training?

My therapy wasn't about reward and punishment, not by my therapist.

However, it is normal human behavior to learn through experience. When things go well and turn out positively, we are likely to continue what worked. When things don't go well, we are likely to learn from mistakes, rethink things, approach life differently. That's nothing new. We've known about that aspect of human development and learning for ages.
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Old 12-22-2018, 08:00 AM #8
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Default Re: Therapy = Complex Version of Dog Training?

it does sound like your therapy has a thread of behavioral modification as part of it, and the original Skinnerian ideas of stimulus-response have their roots in animal behavior. Thirty years ago, my Psych 100 class trained pigeons, like they did in WWII (the wartime experience was not really so successful whereas my pigeon was).

What might be worth discussing is the use of positive rewards rather than punishment, which I believe is more effective in shaping behavior. Take a look at the newish research on corporal punishment, it's ever so more clear that punishment doesn't work so well to shape behavior in kids and it has a lot of side effects on kids' wellbeing and the relationship between kids and parents. I think the same is true for dogs, teaching them what to do rather than punishing them, especially during the housebreaking period. Punishing dogs seems to end up with really messed up dogs who slink away to poop in someone's closet.

I think from previous threads you indicate that you signed up for this kind of tough love (sorry if I'm confusing you with another poster), but even if you haven't, only you can choose to modify your behavior regardless of your T's approach. And you can't force her into doing something because you think it would be better for you, at least without negotiating for it. You are the subject of the behavior modification and therefore the one who has to agree to be modified or not.
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Old 12-22-2018, 09:19 PM #9
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Default Re: Therapy = Complex Version of Dog Training?

Behaviorism is behaviorism, it's true. And the fact that behaviorist therapy modalities feel like dog training is a part of why I have no interest in them for myself. It's not clear from your description whether what your therapist did was more behaviorism-based or more about underlying boundary setting, though.
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Old 12-22-2018, 10:28 PM #10
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Default Re: Therapy = Complex Version of Dog Training?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anne2.0 View Post
it does sound like your therapy has a thread of behavioral modification as part of it, and the original Skinnerian ideas of stimulus-response have their roots in animal behavior. Thirty years ago, my Psych 100 class trained pigeons, like they did in WWII (the wartime experience was not really so successful whereas my pigeon was).

What might be worth discussing is the use of positive rewards rather than punishment, which I believe is more effective in shaping behavior. Take a look at the newish research on corporal punishment, it's ever so more clear that punishment doesn't work so well to shape behavior in kids and it has a lot of side effects on kids' wellbeing and the relationship between kids and parents. I think the same is true for dogs, teaching them what to do rather than punishing them, especially during the housebreaking period. Punishing dogs seems to end up with really messed up dogs who slink away to poop in someone's closet.

I think from previous threads you indicate that you signed up for this kind of tough love (sorry if I'm confusing you with another poster), but even if you haven't, only you can choose to modify your behavior regardless of your T's approach. And you can't force her into doing something because you think it would be better for you, at least without negotiating for it. You are the subject of the behavior modification and therefore the one who has to agree to be modified or not.
Yeah, that was me about the tough love. I do recognize the behaviors I need to change and want to change them, and I always have. When I’m coddled or treated with “kid gloves,” so to speak, I tend to just spiral out of control. The tough love approach seems to be the only thing that works with me. Tough love makes me feel cared for. It’s very different than what I grew up with, so that’s probably why.
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