Monday, January 11, 2010

Topic 12: Behavioral Analysis

--I apologize...the formatting didn't transfer from the table. Please feel to contact me via email for a copy of the document.

Clients often report they don’t know why they did what they did. And to a large degree, I believe them. I often challenge my clients to tell me the steps necessary to drive a car. As they do, I playfully trip them up by asking questions about this or that. What they come to realize is that driving a car is a remarkably complex task that calls for multiple thought processes and requires you need to pay attention to details. In psychology, this term is called “automaticity:” the ability to complete complex behaviors without active cognitive thinking –like a habit. Much of the ritual in Internet sexual compulsivity is automatic. People fall into a trance, and simply don’t know why they are doing what they are doing. A helpful tool in identifying thinking errors, feeling triggers and high-risk situations is the completion of a behavioral analysis. This is a step-by-step examination of what happens in an acting-out experience. The goal is to help you identify additional relevant issues, so you should examine all details, no matter how small you think they are. The behavioral analysis is a way to slow down and uncover the contributing factors. In the process of completing the analysis, you will identify a number of places to intervene and interrupt the cycle.
• You will learn to recognize and then contradict thinking errors. Challenging negative thinking through corrected thoughts or using affirmations (if you are familiar with the 12-step tradition) is a start.
• You will be able to address your feelings. Identifying ways you can connect with others in a healthy way, for example, allows you to help address feelings of loneliness. If your sadness and depression are significant and long lasting, medications or therapy might be helpful.
• High-risk situations are recognizable. Too much free time can make you vulnerable to a high-risk situation. Finding ways to engage in healthy fun is another way to intervene on the cycle.
In each of the behavioral analyses, I talk about an escalating pattern of behaviors that sets the stage for the next trip through the cycle. When working with clients, I call these trips “micro-cycles,” because you may experience multiple trips through the cycle within a given time period. The example below highlights multiple ways you may have failed to cope with the setups throughout a given time period. The key then is to identify ways you can interrupt any and all of the various parts of the cycle.
• Using the template below, complete a behavioral analysis of an acting-out encounter. What feelings triggers (see page XX) thinking errors (see page xx) or high-risk situations (see page xx) did you identify? Update the current lists, as appropriate.
To complete the analysis, it may be helpful to work backwards. Start with the acting-out incident. Answer the question “What happened?” Then ask, “What happened right before that” and so on. Stay focused on what happened while you work backward. Don’t give up to early, but you can always add more if you remember parts of the cycle. It’s like tracing the last domino’s fall back to the first domino. Once you have a good start at what happened, complete the other columns by adding the corresponding thinking errors/thoughts, feeling triggers and high-risk settings. Try to fill each column, but if you can’t you can always come back to it. At the end of the process, summarize the behavioral analysis. Every item in the analysis becomes a place to develop an intervention plan.
---Start Here---
What happened?
Include Payoffs or Consequences Thoughts
What was I thinking?
What reason did I use?
What was I feeling? High-risk Situation
When, where, who, what?
I hooked up with someone I did it again. Shame.
Hopelessness. Isolation. Avoid my support network.
Late night
No support
I drove over to their place He/she is attractive. Sex will be great.
Why do I keep doing this? Excited, happy, numb, distracted. Going to other peoples house.
Not establishing boundaries.
No support network
Keeping secrets
I was chatting online Maybe I can connect with someone.
My partner is already asleep, no one will know.
My partner isn’t available Lonely, excited, aroused Cruising.
Online late
Online in “bad” places
I start looking at porn. No one will know
It’s only pictures
I earned it after how bad today was. Justified, entitled,
Bored No supervision online.
Porn sites
I was checking my email I have to see what else needs to be done on the project. Lonely, tired, sad. Working too late
Using work to give me an excuse to use the internet
I was heading to bed Can’t talk to anyone.
I’m alone.
No one cares Sad, depressed, lonely, tired. Isolation.
I had a fight I can’t do anything right.
My partner doesn’t understand.
It’s my fault Fear, sadness, shame, guilt. Seeing someone angry.
Lack of assertive skills
I missed dinner My partner doesn’t care; he/she didn’t’ wait for me. Hungry Not eating well
Not keeping a schedule
Life not in balance
I come home late I had to get this project done.
Maybe my boss won’t be mad at me if I’m done.
It’s not a big deal. Stress
Fear Working late
Not keeping a schedule
Trying to please others.
I had a project to complete at work. Oh no. I’m in trouble.
I should know better.
I have to do it myself.
No one will help.
It has to be done today.
I’m going to get fired. Worried, anxious.
Stress Made a mistake.
Not talking with others.
Not being honest.
Not asking for help.
Lots of conflict at work. Better be careful or my boss will turn on me.
I’d better not screw up. Worried/fearful that someone is angry.
Shame/Fear Someone is angry
Consequences at work.
My boss yelled at me. I did it again
I’m in trouble
I can’t do anything right.
I told myself I wouldn’t do that again. Tired.
Shame/Guilt Conflict
Doing things I said I wouldn’t
I came in late because I overslept Frustrated that I didn’t sleep well.
I did it again Tired. Hooking up the night before (complete and/or continue the analysis)
Summary of the analysis Catastrophizing.
I can’t make a mistake.
I’m in trouble.
I can’t tell anyone.
I’m going to get fired.
I’m alone. Lonely.
Stress. Not sleeping well.
Making a mistake.
Being online.
Working from home.
Working late.
Chatting online.
Looking at porn.

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