Behavior Chain analysis

What is the Behavior Chain Analysis?

The Chain Analysis of Problem Behavior, or Behavior Chain Analysis, is an exercise in DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) that we can use to analyze our problematic behavior by looking at what caused it and then the consequences of it. I made these awesome worksheets that walk you through how you can apply it to your life!

behavior chain analysis

Let’s say the Problem Behavior is getting angry and throwing your partner’s phone.

We start at the prompting event: You wanted to spend time with your partner and they were on their phone.

The vulnerability: Your ex used to be on the phone around you and they were secretly cheating and talking to that person.

Then we do: thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Like feeling suspicious, betrayed, heartbroken, unable to stop thinking about it, anxiety.

Then we go to the action: Throwing the phone

Consequences: Your partner was upset with you, you felt absolutely terrible, cry-migraines

The final outcome: Your partner felt unsafe with you and it effected the trust in the relationship

So now we can see the whole picture of those behaviors, right? I also love it for enforcing and encouraging GOOD behaviors. Like acknowledging when you handle things awesomely and the outcome was positive!

Behavior Chain Analysis: The What and How

So in simple terms, it’s a technique used in psychology and therapy to explore the sequence of events that lead to a particular behavior or reaction. Picture it as a chain—a series of links that connect one after the other, eventually leading to the final action.

Step 1: The Who and When

Every good detective knows that understanding the characters involved and the timing is key to unraveling any mystery. The same goes for behavior analysis! Consider the “who” in the situation—was it you, a friend, or a pet elephant?

Next up, let’s focus on the “when.” Was it yesterday, last week, or something that happened a long time ago but that you’d like to figure out?

Step 2: The What and Where

Now, we move on to the “what” and the “where.” What happened just before the behavior occurred? Were you feeling stressed, bored, excited, or hangry (hungry + angry)? And where were you at that moment?

Step 3: The Why

Ah, the million-dollar question: “Why?” Unraveling the “why” behind our actions is where the real magic happens. It’s like discovering the treasure at the end of our behavior chain map. The “why” often involves our beliefs, thoughts, and emotions, and understanding it can open doors to self-awareness and growth.

Step 4: Piecing It All Together

Once we’ve gathered all the clues from each step, it’s time to piece them together like a jigsaw puzzle. Analyze the connections between the links in the behavior chain and notice any patterns that emerge.

Conclusion: Empowerment through Understanding

Remember, the purpose of this exercise isn’t to judge ourselves harshly but to foster self-compassion and personal growth. So, the next time you find yourself acting in a way that’s hard to understand, you have the tools to figure it out!