Behavioral change doesn’t happen overnight, and there are many components that contribute to a lasting transformation within individuals. An evidence-based practice that is central to our programs is positive reinforcement, which is used to boost self-esteem and self-confidence while encouraging specific pro-social behaviors.
Positive reinforcement is shown through a variety of ways, including verbal praise, rewards — such as access to special events or incentives — and awards, like certificates for completing certain phases or classes within the program, or our special ceremonies where participants are honored for successfully completing all phases of their behavior change plan. Because our programs use different techniques to recognize participants’ accomplishments, we tailor positive reinforcement to best fit individual needs.
While some participants are validated through verbal praise, others are motivated by external incentives such as prizes for actions like regular attendance. By learning what best motivates each participant, we develop an effective strategy to help them reach their goals.
Coupled with the goal-setting component of our programming, which participants complete one-on-one with their case managers, positive reinforcement is used for continual motivation. Participants are taught that good behaviors yield positive outcomes that are key to achieving their goals. They are also respectfully encouraged to engage in pro-social behaviors, while antisocial behaviors are dissuaded.
Not only does positive reinforcement encourage pro-social behaviors, it helps participants develop trust and a rapport with our staff. Once a relationship is established, participants are more likely to listen to what they’re taught and respect what’s asked of them, ultimately reducing their risk of recidivism.
Our staff develops a relationship with participants as soon as they start our programs. Our front desk personnel always greet participants politely and by name, and case managers and group facilitators mirror the behaviors they would like to see participants exhibit. Our staff also relies on role-playing scenarios in our groups and classes to further facilitate strong relationships.
Using cognitive-behavioral tactics such as positive reinforcement helps participants modify anti-social thinking because they are praised for exhibiting pro-social behaviors. Over time, they learn to continue these behaviors, preparing them for a successful reentry to their communities.