How to Write a Behavior Modification Treatment Plan

A behavior modification program is needed when a person’s behaviors are out of control, dangerous or detrimental to the quality of his life. Behavior modification plans are often found in the mental health, developmental disability and school settings.
To develop a behavior modification program, you need extensive training in how and when to develop the best route to modifying the behavior desired and determining effective consequences if the behavior is not changed.

Identify the behavior that is disruptive or causing problems for the subject. Observe the behavior directly and indirectly. Watch the subject in all environments--home, school and community. Write down the situations in which behaviors occur and the result. Is the result a form of avoidance or attention seeking? Is the behavior similar in other stimuli, or does multiple stimuli bring the same behaviors? What is important to the subject that can be used as a consequence? Does the subject have a support system to ensure the consequences are adhered too?

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List the behaviors in order of severity. Choose the top behavior and list skills lacking in the subject to overcome the behavior. This is now the list of skills the subject will be learning.

List how the skills will be taught. Use statements like, “Bill will raise his hand during class, waiting for his teacher to call his name before talking during class.” This includes the behavior, the expectation and the process to follow for accomplishing the goal.

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List the consequences for interrupting, for example: “Bill will receive no more than three reminders before a letter is sent home to his parents. His parents agreed to restrict television time if he receives his third warning.”

List how the warning process is to be implemented: “Bill will receive a green card for his first warning and be told 'Bill, you need to raise your hand and wait for me to call on you to speak.'" The second warning is a yellow card: “Bill, you were reminded that you need to raise your hand before talking out in class. You have one more warning before I send a letter home to your parents. Please remember to raise your hand and wait for me to call on you.” The third warning is a red card: “Bill, I will need to send a letter home to your parents today. Do you know why?” Let the subject answer, and if necessary, repeat the steps, one warning at a time, and repeat what is expected of the subject.

Determine how long the behavior plan will be in effect. A behavior plan has a beginning date and an ending date. Also include a regular schedule for reviewing the documentation. Include what is required for the behavior plan to be discontinued.

Review the plan, leaving a section for the conclusion of the plan. This will be your manner of determining the success of the behavior plan, the need to continue the behavior plan or the need to update the behavior plan with changes in implementation.


Address only one behavior at a time; to address more than one can cause additional stress to the subject. He may be more prone to behaviors if he feels he is being personally attacked.