Behavior Modification

Behavior modification programs may also play a key role as part of the treatment program for somato-form disorders. Operant conditioning is used to increase the reinforcement the child receives for healthy behavior and to reduce reinforcement received for somatization (Campo and Fritsch 1994). The child should receive reinforcement for reduced complaints about symptoms and for healthy behavior, such as participation in pleasant activities when the child is symptom free. Behavior modification programs with incentives for greater functioning and decreased attention to illness behavior and symptoms may play an important role in helping break cycles of secondary gain and reinforcement. Behavioral techniques such as contingent reinforcement and relaxation appear helpful in reducing secondary gain, alleviating headache pain, and treating conversion disorders (Brugman and Newman 1993; Dickes 1974; Larsson et al. 1987; Manne et al. 1990; Speed 1996; Treischmann et al. 1970).

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