Behavior Chain Analysis

Behavior Chain Analysis of Problem Behavior

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1. Describe the specific PROBLEM BEHAVIOR
(flashback, cutting, disassociation, hiding, closeting, panic attack, etc.)


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A. Be very specific and detailed. No vague terms.

B. Identify exactly what you did, said, thought or felt (if feelings are the targeted problem behavior).


C. Describe the intensity of the behavior and other characteristics of the behavior that are
important.


D. Describe the problem behavior in enough detail that an actor in a play or movie could recreate the behavior exactly.

2. Describe the specific PRECIPITATING EVENT that started the whole chain of behavior.

A. Start with the environmental event that started the chain. Always start with some event in your environment, even if it doesn't seem to you that the environmental event "caused" the problem behavior. Possible questions to get at this are:

  • What exact event precipitated the start of the chain reaction?
  • When did the sequence of events that led to the problem behavior begin? When did the problem start?
  • What was going on the moment the problem started?
  • What were you doing, thinking, feeling, imagining at that time?
  • Why did the problem behavior happen on that days instead of the day before?
  • 3. Describe in general VULNERABILITY FACTORS happening before the precipitating event.

    What factors or events made you more vulnerable to a problematic chain? Areas to examine are:
    A. Physical illness; unbalanced eating or sleeping; injury


    B. Use of drugs or alcohol; misuse of prescription drugs


    C. Stressful events in the environment (either positive or negative)


    D. Intense emotions, such as sadness, anger, fear, loneliness


    E. Previous behaviors of your own that you found stressful

    4. Describe in excruciating detail THE CHAIN OF EVENTS that led up to the problem behavior.

    A. What next? Imagine that your problem behavior is chained to the precipitating event in the environment. How long is the chain? Where does it go? What are the links? Write out all links in the chain of events, no matter how small. Be very specific, as if you are writing a script for a play.

  • What exact thought (or belief), feeling, or action followed the precipitating event? What thought, feeling, or action followed that? What next?
  • Look at each link in the chain after you write it. Was there another thought feeling, or action that could have occurred? Could someone else have thought, felt, or acted differently at that point? If so, explain how that  specific thought, feeling, or action came to be.
  • For each link in the chain, as if there is a smaller link I could describe.

  • B. The links can be thoughts, emotions, sensations and behaviors.

    5. What are the CONSEQUENCES of this behavior? Be specific.
  • How did other people react immediately and later?
  • How did you feel immediately following the behavior? Later?
  • What effect did the behavior have on you and your environment?
  • 6. Describe in detail different SOLUTIONS to the problem.

    A.Go back to the chain of your behaviors following the prompting event. Circle each point or link indicating that if you had done something different, you would have avoided the problem behavior.


    B.What could you have done differently at each link in the chain of events to avoid the problem behavior? What coping behaviors or skillful behaviors could you  have used?

    7. Describe in detail the PREVENTION STRATEGY

    A. How could you have kept the chain from starting by reducing your vulnerability to the chain.

    8. Describe what you are going to do to REPAIR important or significant consequences of the problem behavior.

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