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Reinforcement is used in most cases to imply the strengthening or increment in the probability of a specific desired response while punishment is the addition of an aversive element with the intention of decreasing a certain undesired behaviour, punishment is also equated to extinction. Reinforcement has both positive and negative elements. Positive reinforcement is always in the form of reward or praise with the final effect being the increase in the response, negative reinforcement is a form of conditioned withdrawal a negative habit after continued denial of the reward, it aims at eliminating negative stimuli. Punishment is a form of negative reinforcement. The use of the terms positive and negative in the case of Reinforcement (or punishment) implies either the addition or subtraction of the stimulus. Positive reinforcement and negative punishment contingencies are associated with an appetitive stimulus which is aimed at maintaining the desired behaviour upon exposure to a subject. Negative reinforcement and positive punishment contingencies are associated with an aversive kind of stimuli with the aim of taking it (aversive stimuli) so that the behaviour is extinct.
According to Bielakiewicz & Bielakiewicz, (2005) reinforcement is the best technique in training as opposed to punishment, because punishment discourages. Punishment is associated with the extinction of a specific behaviour and it doesn't teach or provide any other choice hence it has limited chances of survival.
Reinforcement is a response to good behaviour while punishment is a response to bad behaviour; therefore punishment is not good for training. Punishment has a limitation since it is not possible to control what is being learnt unlike reinforcement which encourages the response to the stimuli. Punishment is precisely timed to be effective in deterring the undesired behaviour while reinforcement can be effective irrespective of the time taken for initiation.
Cognitive techniques for therapy and self-help
The group intervention technique
It makes use of empirically supported cognitive behaviour components, the packages, mutual aid, and psychosocial actions which have a specific domain or targeting specific outcomes. There is the use of the functional assessment of the client's repertoires and the needs to determine if a particular client will benefit from the unstructured social support as in the case of the mutual aid groups and increased knowledge from the psycholoeducation isolation. The therapeutic interventions can also be used in the treatment of psychosocial functioning through the elimination of behaviours that tend to interfere with the psychological balance. These will help improve the quality of life of an individual.
The Habit reversal training
This technique is based on the belief that the nervous habits tend to persist because of the generation of the responses that with the limited awareness, social tolerance and the excessive practice (Franks, 1984). This technique was specifically designed for the purposes of counteracting the beliefs, the behaviours treated by this technique include; the oral digital habits or thumb sucking, scratching, chronic skin picking, social competence, self biting.
However, there are some situations that present limitation s to this kind of treatment, its only those behaviours that are controlled with automatic reinforcement that have shown good response, to this treatment while those behaviours that function either escape, the attention or the social consequences respond negatively, for self-help the self awareness aspects have to be reinforced and internalized to lay the ground for habit reversal therapy. The limitations are also high for the individuals who have the problem of mental retardation. To sum up there is need to implement the following steps in HRT for effective results, these include; awareness training, the competing response and the social support.