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Many people are now learning about “behaviour support” for the first time! Very exciting! Unfortunately, good information is rare and what is out there is often confused. All the more now that the NDIS is rolling out across Australia.

Behaviour Support is actually a beautiful field all about helping each other and empowering choice and control, change and growth, learning and development.

The terms “behaviour management” are being used by many people now, even whole agencies. Yes there is a long standing field of behaviour management within Psychology. Old habits die hard. Across western countries since the last century, and especially over the past 50 years, behaviour support has largely replaced behaviour management for many significant reasons.

The first reason is that support is about a holistic and ecological person centred method.

The second reason is that research suggested since the 1970s that a behaviour management focus on surface behaviours tends not to be as effective in the long term. Yes there are short term gains but overall the method has struggled to take on more supportive person centred approaches.

The third reason is that support approaches seek to get to the underlying reasons for behavioural issues and then addressing them in positive supportive practices – by understanding the causes and drivers that are often unconscious and contextual we can actually support a person rather than try to influence and control behaviours. In contrast management methods as a scientific field sought to study individuals and social environments, not necessarily for therapeutic reasons but more so to understand human psychology.

I’m sure in everyday life many of us would appreciate a practitioner having a focus on behavioural support rather than management. Yes people want to solve behavioural issues, and yes intervention seeks safety and to reduce behaviours of concern wherever possible. But the point is that there are ways of doing this within a person centred framework.