The objectives of the penultimate session, session 7, are the following:
- To learn about behavioral reinforcement and how it relates to family conflict management
- To learn how behavioral reinforcement can help you manage your couple conflict and parenting issues moving forward
As you learned at the outset of this program, the basic premise of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is that behaviors, cognitions (thought processes), and affect (emotions) are all influence one another to produce desirable or problematic outcomes in various situations. These factors operate in a cyclical fashion, and not necessarily in a linear fashion. For example, there are times your thoughts will influence your emotions, and vice versa, as those emotions may then have an impact on your thoughts again. You may even find yourself in a downward negative spiral of thoughts and emotions, especially during conflicts with your partner.
Within the CBT framework, behavior is a critical piece. As it relates to couple conflict and parenting, it is the behaviors that you find ourselves doing or not doing that can be the main source of problems in your family. Of course, negative thoughts and emotions are unpleasant and can feel like huge problems in and of themselves. But conflict-related behaviors are at the crux of why couple conflict can have a negative effect on parenting as these are what negatively affect the family climate the most. Your behaviors are the visible manifestations and observable results of the thoughts and feelings that you experience related to couple conflict and parenting.
In the next section, we look at the use of reinforcers to encourage and strengthen positive behavior.