One of the key elements to successful child behavior management is making sure that there are five functions in functional assessment. This is where a child psychologist goes through a child’s life and develops a full profile of a child’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, interests, and learning styles. Once this is established, the psychologist will then decide which behaviors or developmental problems a child has and work towards fixing these issues before they become unmanageable.
Many times, a child psychologist will recommend that parents hire a professional to provide them with these behavioral assessments and intervention services. However, there are a number of ways that you can assess your own personal strengths and weaknesses in this area and provide the services necessary to improve your child’s performance in school and home.
The first of the five functions is recognition. This is where you observe and identify behaviors or conditions on the basis of their regular patterns or standard meanings. This is often done with observing your child’s reactions to certain situations. For instance, you may notice that your child tends to get frustrated quickly when he or she hears or reads a word that doesn’t mean anything to him or her. You can use these instances as an opportunity to talk about words or concepts and ask your child questions about the meaning behind the action or reaction.
The second of the five functions is integration. With functional assessment, you will be able to see how your child integrates various aspects of his or her world into his or her daily experience. You will look for areas that are problematic and you can begin working on strategies to change these behaviors or conditions before they become dysfunctional.
The third function is activation. This is where you look for any signs or symptoms that indicate your child’s active participation in his or her world. You may notice that your child often resists activities that involve other people or that involve making new connections.
The fourth functional assessment tool is observation. In this stage, you will observe your child as he or she performs tasks that are part of his or her normal daily activities. As you do this, you will also want to note any changes that you might find as well as any changes that your child is indicating as he or she grows and matures.
The fifth and final functional assessment tool involves testing. In this stage, you will be using a variety of different types of techniques in order to assess what your child’s strengths and weaknesses are. You may want to use temperament tests or self-report questionnaires in order to discover any problems that may be inhibiting your child’s development. You may also look for developmental gaps between your child and his or her peers as well as differences in achievement levels.
You may even want to use sophisticated diagnostic procedures in order to determine which areas of your child’s life need the most attention. Understanding how each of these 5 functions works can help you and your child tremendously as you work to support him or her through the many frustrating phases of childhood.
Cognitive Behavioural Assessment – The 3 Phases of Assessment
As a psychotherapist specialising in complex psychological disorders, I frequently come across clients whose first challenge when seeking a treatment is understanding the human behaviour functions. The first two functions (of behavioral assessment) are not actually the most important functions to be examined in terms of your client’s needs and their therapy and/or diagnosis.
Functions such as emotion regulation and physiological arousal are much more suitable for this purpose. However, functions such as thinking selection and planning, or even memory recall and planning are also appropriate. What is important is that you understand which functions your client’s behaviour is demonstrating and in what way these functions are interfering with each other and/or impacting their ability to get treated.
When thinking about which functions of cognitive behavioural analysis (CBA) to use in your clients’ case, it’s a good idea to think in terms of “function blocks”. These are simply blocks that are used to represent cognitive and emotional states that may be operating on the client. For example, you may have a client whose thoughts and perceptions are primarily cognitive and whose emotional state is predominantly emotional. This is a functional block. If you don’t already know which functions your client’s functional blocks are representing, then the next step is to find out.
Function blocks are usually simple sentences like “The client feels frustrated” or “The client worries that he/she will fail at this job”. You should make sure that the functional description is accurate and meaningful to your client, otherwise, the block will not help your client to find a solution to the underlying problem(s). Once you have found these functions, the objective of your cognitive behavioural therapy becomes much easier to specify and follow-up on, and your client should be treated accordingly. Now you see that it is not just the effectiveness of the CFA that matters but the way in which you can help your client to work through their problems, identify the dysfunctional elements of their thought and behaviour patterns, and find a resolution for them.