Iycee Charles de Gaulle Summary Behavioral Change Program Using a Single Case Study Design Essay

Behavioral Change Program Using a Single Case Study Design Essay


With the advance technology, there is a great revolution in the field of psychology. There are many identified behavioral problems that are interesting psychologist and therefore there has been intensive study on this field.  Among the most recent field of interest in psychology is correction of individual behaviors though the application of behavior change program. These programs are designed based on psychological theories.  The development and increased use  of  the behavior change programs follows the earlier work on  behavioral conditioning which studies on  how successful behavior can be reinforced or withdrawn to change the current behavior status of a an individual.

 Based on these earlier works by psychologists including Pavlov, B.F Skinner and others, psychologists have developed various experimental designs applied in behavior change programs used in the correction and modification of individual behaviors (Gay and Airasian, 2003). Cognitive-behavior interventions programs have been employed in behavior change programs using a number of experimental designs. This study will research on the effectiveness of using single case study design using the ABAB four step quasi-experimental designs with a clearly defined target behavior on an individual.

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Aim of the study

This study had the main aim of studying the effectiveness of application of ABAB treatment to change an individual behavior. It will look at the effectiveness of designing a behavior change program that will target individual behavior and consequently apply ABAB treatment to look at the changes the particular target behavior.

This will be a self case study which will aim at administering a treatment to change my own behavior. I have identified my problem as great anxiety any time am talking with my superior and when doing my homework and presentation of my assignments. The study will therefore aim at applying treatment to reduce my anxiety

Objectives of the study

The following will be the objectives of the study:

·         To assess the baseline data of the current behavior

·         To design an intervention program that  to apply treatment to individual behavior

·         To apply the first treatment effectively and study its effects

·         To assess the changes in individual behavior change when the treatment is withdrawn and then reapplied

·         To assess the effectiveness of the overall treatment using the ABAB design


Application of cognitive therapy treatment would lead to reduced incidences of anxiety

Literature review

The use of single case designs in designing behavior change program can be traced to the earlier work of B.F. Skinner. Skinner applied operant conditioning technique to his subjects targeting the change of a certain behavior and in a scientific process measured the effectiveness of the therapy at various points in the course of application of the treatment.  With time, consequent studies have given the technique an upper place in psychology and made it a model of choice in treatment and measurement of behavior changes.

Behavior change programs are usually carried out in a number of steps. Most of these programs usually use cognitive behavior therapy which is applied in steps measuring its effectiveness at each and every step. The key element of this design which forms the base for evaluation of the whole process is gathering of the pretest data referred to as the baseline measure. This sis usual collected before the administration of the treatment begins and it benchmarks the success or failure of the whole process (Wasson, 2003).  The other important element in the application of cognitive therapy is the periods of measurement which is used to determine the changes which have occurred to the subject and the degree of change in the process due to the application of the treatment with a target to the specific behavior.

There are many Cognitive behavior therapies design which can be applied in a behavior change program. The A-B-A-B design represent a concerted attempt to measure a baselines which is represented by A, followed by a treatment (B), them withdrawal of that specific treatment (A2), and finally the re-introduction of the treatment again (B2). Generally this design involves two important parts.

In the initial phase of carrying out an ABAB therapy, there is successful gathering of the baseline data on the current status of the target behavior.  This forms an important benchmark or a comparison data which is used later to evaluate the success or failure of the process.  The initial step in implementation of the design then ends with the application of the treatment. This is then followed by measurement of the effects produced by this treatment. (Foster et al., 2002)

In the second part, there is the measurement of the return to baseline. This evaluates the withdrawal effects of the treatment. It looks into the effects on the subject when the treatment is withdrawn.  Then there is the application of the treatment again and the subsequent measurement of the changes as a result of the introduction of the treatment again. (Farrell et al., 2006)

Repper (1998) assert that single subject design using ABAB treatment models rely on the application of a particular treatment to one subject or to a single group of subjects in to determine the effects of the treatment depending the  subsequent data collected from the applied treatment.  This ABAB design has been successfully used in determining the effectiveness of the Pavlov’s classical conditioning in all the steps. The design has shown a high level of effectiveness when applied to the collection of the baseline data, initial application of the treatment, extinction or withdrawal of the treatment effects and the recovery of the effects when the treatment is applied again.  It has also been used in determining the effects of a treatment once it is reapplied.  This design can also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of different treatments when applied on different subjects or on the same subject. (Barlow et al., 2008)

In practical application when carrying out cognitive behavior therapy, single subject design has been found effective method for use in many behavioral researches which attempts to measure the changes in subject’s behavior when a treatment is applied or on application of reinforcement. If we look at a practical example we find single subject design provides an effective method provides teachers with a way to come up with a reward system or the disciplinary method for a particular student depending on the condition or for a manager to come up with the most effective method to compensate or to rewarding a particular employee depending on their behaviors. (McMillan, 2004)

Research design

This study will use a single case research design. This will be applied to change my own behavior.  Single case study design is most appropriate to carry out this study since it is targeting an individual case. In this regard it will specifically assess the current status of the target behavior that need to the changed, come up with a treatment that is likely to result to the change using a reinforcer, and then apply that treatment assessing where it is producing any change in the target behavior. The strength of single case research design lies in the way the application and withdrawal of the treatment is made and the way assessment of the change is carried out and compared with the baseline data.

The ABAB research design is an attempt to apply a treatment in cognitive behavior therapy. It is carried out in a number of steps with the effect of the treatment assed in each step.  ABAB is implemented in the following steps:

A (baseline data)

This step involves the assessment of a baseline data. This step assesses the initial data or the current state of target behavior. This step in most cases is used to identify the particular kind of behavior that aims to be treated.

B (First treatment)

In this step, the treatment is introduced to the individual.  This will involve the specific way in which the treatment is administered to the individual with a target to the particular behavior. One of the most important considerations to make here is that that kind of treatment applied must be able to be assessment. In other words the treatment as applied must be measurable which means there has to be an observable change from the treatment.

A (withdrawal of the treatment)

This marks an important step in the assessment of the   changes linked to the treatment. At this step, there is withdrawn of the treatment from the individual. This should be followed by an observation of the changes in the target behavior as a result of the treatment.  The specific change from the withdrawal of the treatment should be made in reference to the changes in the behavior that had been observed when the treatment was introduced in the first treatment.

B (Re-application of the treatments)

In this step, the treatment is reintroduced once again. This is followed by the observation of any change in the target behavior which can be attributed to the reapplication of the treatment. This is the final and the most important step that assess the strength of change of the behavior due to the application of the treatment.

There are the four important steps involved in the application of the treatment in cognitive behavior therapy as a result of application of the treatment. Our study design will follow the four steps.

Design of the treatment

The target behavior for this study was a high level of anxiety when communicating with others especially superiors and teachers. With the problem in mind the most appropriate and effective treatment for the problem is designed based on the baseline study. The following are the three approaches that have been used in designing the treatment for the problem:

·         Decreasing the high level of anxiety

·         Raising the level of self confidence

·         Raising the level of concentration when carrying out the tasks

The moat appropriate treatment has been designed in a way that it is not evading the problem that is causing anxiety rather to face these challenges with positive thinking. The application of Cognitive therapy in the treatment was meant to change the negative and disturbing thoughts. This would be successfully implemented through examination of feelings and the level of anxiety with positive thinking.

 The use of behavior therapy was aimed at modifying giving a control over the negative unwanted behavior which is due to a high level of anxiety and lack of self confidence. The main aim was to cope with situations which are causing anxiety not by evading these situations but by continuously increasing my exposure to them.

In any cognitive behavior therapy, the use of a reinforcer is very important. Therefore in the design of this treatment the main reinforcer is self rewarding.   Every time a positive improvement will be made, a self reward will be given in order to reinforce the positive gains that have been made in the modification of the behavior. With a strong liking for a hamburger, I have designed the treatment in a way that I would get a hamburger treat every time I succeed in every evaluation.

An evaluation will also be carried out intermittently every time a treatment is introduced. The period for evaluation is set for one school semester which means an evaluation will be a carried out every month for three months when the baseline study will be carried out, first treatment introduce, the treatment withdrawn and the second treatment introduced. Since the baseline will be carried out in the begging of the study, then it means the other three steps will be carried out every month for three months.

A reinforcer has been successfully used in this study. In the design a reinforcer has been integrated, which was the food that I like most. This has been well linked to behavior change treatment. This means that like in the initial behavior change programs, every time I recorded an improvement in a behavior, it would be reinforced positively through self rewarding. On the other hand every time if fail in the treatment, I would negatively reinforce that failure through negative reward in which case I would not take any hamburger. In the process I will also have to learn important methods and skills that will help me to cope with the behavior problem that am facing. For example use of the proved psychological ways of overcoming anxiety. This would form the initial steps in the designing of the treatment to be carried out. They would also form a theoretical part of the treatment but which will have to be practiced in the course of the treatment.  Therefore before the treatment is started, there will be an extensive research on the methods of coping with anxiety.

This process will utilize simple schedules of continuous ratios (CRF). This means that  each time I  communicate with my superiors or each time I handle may assignment and present them  on time without any anxiety, I will reward myself by treating myself  of  hamburger at the  most expensive restaurant. When I fail and experience anxiety in the process when communication of when handling my assignments, no matter how I crave for hamburger, I would not get on not unless next time when I would record an improvement. This means that I will be looking forward to the time when it succeeds so that I can take a hamburger. (Roll, 2003)

I order to assess the changes in my behavior and to record the progress made, the following monitoring sheets will be used.  This will help to assess the effectiveness of every evaluation made in the process of applying the treatment. The monitoring sheet will enter the data as follows:

Skills learned to cope with anxiety
Level of anxiety (out of 10)
Success or failure
Baseline data

Month 1 (First treatment applied )

Month 2 (Withdrawal of the treatment)

Month 3 (Reapplication of the treatment)

This table would be used to record the progress made in the course of the treatment. IT will highlight the particular skills learned to cope with the treatment, record a self score of the level of anxiety experienced in the course of the treatment, and assess whether the evaluation had been success or failure and therefore reward accordingly.


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Farrell, C., Shafran, R., Lee, M. & Fariburn, G. (2006): Cognitive-Behavioral intervention to improve extreme shape concern. Behavior and Cognitive Therapy, Vol. 33

Foster, L, Watson, S., Meeks, C. & Young, S. (2002): Single-subject research design for counselors. Professional School of counseling

McMillan, J.  (2004): Educational Research. Boston:  Allyn and Bacon

Wasson, J. (2003): The use of colored overlays in pupils facing reading disabilities. Practical Update, Vol. 4(2)