The importance of being aware of new theories, practices, and studies cannot be overstressed. “To travel at all is to hold ideas about the behavioral and social terrain over which we journey. To show no interest, in theory, is simply to travel blind. This is bad practice and unhelpful to clients” (Howe, 1987: 9). The degree to which an individual social worker may have the opportunity to explore different approaches may vary based upon the political and organizational policies and framework of their agencies, with those associated with service-user, led voluntary projects generally gaining a higher ability to use their own discretion than those employed by local intake teams (Blewitt, Lewis & Tunstill, 2007: 4). According to Halmos (1965), social workers in the 1950s were defined more according to the agency that they worked for than the work that they did, a condition that has only become more exaggerated in recent years. Despite the constraints on their time, resources and prescribed approaches, most studies continue to show that practitioners would much rather be employed with agencies that allow them to work in a reflective, relationship-based manner (Munro, 2004). Behavioral therapy provides this type of working relationship. To fully understand this approach, it is necessary to first define what is meant by the term ‘behavioral therapy’, understand the background from which it came, the theories that contributed to its development and determine those situations in which it can best be employed by defining its strengths and limitations before it can be applied to a hypothetical case study.
The primary purpose of the social worker is to educate families on how to use more positive means of dealing with issues of all kinds. “Although there are many tools available to the social workers to help bring about change, one of the most popular is generally labeled behavior modification. This method is defined as ‘the systematic application of common sense wrapped in psychology’s brand name, behavior modification” (Weathers, 2007).