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date: 16 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article presents a case study of a family with marital, substance-use, mood, external-stressors, and parent–child difficulties to illustrate the principles and methods of pretreatment behavioral assessment. Several guiding principles are discussed: an emphasis on identifying functional relations relevant to behavior problems and treatment goals, especially those that help us explain behavior problems; a multimodal focus during assessment, attending to overt behavior, thoughts, emotions, and physiology; the importance of the conditional and contextual nature of behavior; an emphasis on temporally contiguous and environmental events, thoughts, and emotions in triggering and maintaining behavior problems; the dynamic nature of behavior problems and causal variables; an emphasis on specificity and precision of measurement; and individual differences in the elements, correlates, and causes of behavior problems. A diverse set of methods is congruent with the principles of behavioral assessment and includes behavioral interviews and questionnaires, observation in natural and analog environments, and self- and instrument-aided monitoring of behavior and events in natural and analog environments.

Keywords: behavioral assessment, functional relations, behavior problems, overt behavior, physiology, emotions, thoughts, family

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