week 4 forum post responses

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In need of a 250 word response/discussion to each of the following forum posts. Agreement/disagreement/and/or continuing the discussion.

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Original forum discussion/topic post is as follows:

Instrumental Conditioning

Learning theorists and psychologists seek to understand behavior, what promotes the continuation of behavior and what extinguishes it. Punishment is used as one tool in instrumental conditioning as modifying or exterminating a behavior. Describe an instance in life that might call for the use of punishment. After reading the APA code of conduct assigned in the week’s required readings discuss the ethical limitations (including the concepts of “Principle A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence”–(http://www.apa.org/ethics/code2002.html#principle_a) towards using the use of this method of learning. Lastly, apply these concepts and ethics to an experience you may have had.

Forum post #1

When discussing the ethics of punishment, one of the questions one must ask as a therapist is whether the treatment is in the best interests of the client. This is true whether the patient is an adult, an adolescent, or even an animal (APA, 2017). However, the guidelines also recognize there are exceptions to the rules of putting the needs of the patient first, especially if that patient is likely to harm others. Though it is difficult to objective argue the moral implications of favoring one life over another, especially if one of those lives is the client or patient of the mental health professional. The reason this could potentially be important is with a patient that becomes a danger to themselves or others. A therapist is unlikely to put the needs of a patient first if doing so would lead to severe self-harm or the harm of an innocent victim.

One common example of this is prisons; whether one believes a prison is designed to rehabilitate a person or simply detain them, the fact remains that some individuals need to be separated from the rest of the population for the protection of other citizens. In his examination of the work therapists do with convicted sex offenders Ward (2010) illustrates this fact. Regardless of the rights of these individuals, these are still criminals that society agrees have violated legal and moral constraints the majority agree are wrong, and it would be a danger to allow these offenders to remain with the rest of the population without treatment. In this instance, it has been decided that the psychological needs of these offenders are second to public safety (Ward, 2010). However, not everyone agrees with this point of view; the author also stipulates that many argue that if a form of therapy feels like a punishment to the patient, then it is no longer treatment in the traditional sense. This same argument could theoretically be used against prisons in general, depending on whether one believes that rehabilitation should be the goal rather than detention.

There is also data in the work of Ramey (2016) that appears to suggest that punishment in adolescents and young adults increase the risk of an individual later becoming involved with the criminal justice system. If this is true, then one must be cautious in how therapy is applied, because improper negative reinforcement or punishment may increase negative behaviors rather than prevent them. As the APA guidelines stipulate, it is important to not do anything that is likely to cause harm, but a mental health professional must also consider that the patient may also harm others or themselves if the only concern is autonomy and freedom of the individual patient (APA, 2017).

Forum post #2

In learning about the different types of learning, it is also noted that each type can be used for different things. For instance, our focus this week is on instrumental learning. During instrumental learning we are making an association between one stimuli and our own behavior. A reward and punishment or trial and error type learning. In reward and punishment, it can be used independently or together. Examples included having something set up to earn a reward, having a punishment if something is done or you can use the two together, such as do it this way for a reward for this way for a punishment. In real life situations, I think it depends on the personal situation to identify which one you would use. I also think it depends on the age group as well. For instance, when it comes to adults and the law, there is reward and punishment. Following the law gives you the reward of being a free citizen in society. Breaking the law gives you the punishment of going to jail or prison. When it comes to children, I think one or the other works best. Either they are focused on earning a reward or they are focused on avoiding punishment. Lets say you are teaching your child to potty train. I feel it is best to focus on just reward so that they will associate using the potty on the toilet as a way to earn a reward. This would be more beneficial if they only experienced punishment for going in their pants. The reward would encourage to continue using the potty and would allow them to become excited about it. Using punishment for doing wrong would only discourage and scare them.

This is one way in which principle A comes into play. Principle A states that a psychologist or professional in the field needs to keep the well-being of the client in perspective. (American psychological Association, 2017). This means they need to not be harmful to their client in any way and need to look out for their own health as well. By rewarding the child, it keeps in lien with the principle of not harming. In a counseling session, it would best to offer advice and positive outlook. I do not think it would be wise to put down your client and give negative remarks on their decisions but instead give them a chance to earn a reward in their therapy, even if it is only a psychological reward such as stress free. Harming them in any way, even psychologically is prohibited and would also discourage them. Everyone need criticism sometimes but I have found it is all in the way ti is presented. When someone is bashing me and calling it “criticism” I do not respond well. However, if I am approached calmly and explained well then I always feel good about what I can work on or change.

Forum post #3

Punishment is utilized in instrumental conditioning. Punishment is an effective tool that can be applied to change or extinguish behavior. We use punishment within the judicial system, in classrooms, at work, and in homes. Punishment can be used to adjust the behavior in people as well as animals. Often times, when a child or young adolescent misbehaves at home, he or she is punished. Punishment may include the parent prohibiting the use of electronics or not allowing the child to visit with friends. By temporarily taking away a privilege due to an undesired behavior, the child would most likely adjust his or her behavior in hopes to regain what was taken away. In schools, detention is used as a form of punishment. Another example of punishment that life might call for is the prison system. When individuals commit certain crimes, their freedom may be taken away. Instrumental conditioning uses more than punishment to change or extinguish behavior. This type of conditioning also rewards desirable behavior. A student may receive money from his or her parents when they earn good grades, an employee could earn a free day off for working hard during the week, or a prisoner might be released from prison early for good behavior.

Principle A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence applies to psychologists working with people and animals. Psychologists must ensure the wellbeing of their clients and also look after their best interest. Psychologists must also be cognizant of their own capacity to assist their clients. There are several limitations to instrumental conditioning. An individual may not respond to the types of punishments or rewards that are being administered. In contrast, they may only respond because of the reward or punishment. In this case, the behavior may not actually be changing, rather, the individual is acting out for the attention that negative behavior brings or displaying appropriate behavior just because they are expecting a reward from their behavior. For a psychologist, it might be difficult to use negative punishment with an individual while still looking after their best interest. As stated earlier, negative punishment might not work for everyone. Prior to joining the military, I volunteered at a prison. I was an assistant to a GED teacher. Often times, some of the students were not allowed to attend the classes due to displaying undesirable behavior (big or small) during the week. Punishment was used to extinguish a behavior. However, I do not agree with withholding education from someone based on a minor mishap.


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