Person Centered Behavior

The word ‘behaviour’ is frequently referred to within positive behavioural support, but what is it referring to? Behaviour is something we are doing all of the time as a response to what is happening in and around us.

When a person in mental health services has a change in their behaviour due to a reaction to a negative situation – we may shout, swear, slam doors, etc. – it is often referred to by staff as ‘challenging behaviour’.

Staff in mental health services will often carry out a risk assessment or create a behaviour support plan when a person shows ‘challenging behaviour’, however everyone has the potential to be challenging, with very differing outcomes.

  • Behaving in ways that others identify as ‘challenging’ is not exclusive to people with mental health challenges
  • It is part of being human
  • Most of our behaviours reflect our attempts to meet our needs, satisfy our desires, cope with frustrations and high levels of emotions
  • For those diagnosed with having a mental health challenge, there may be an increased vulnerability to show such behaviours

Everyone can feel upset, angry, and frustrated at times, and will experience situations that we cannot cope with, or have difficulties with. So is it fair that those individuals who are more likely to struggle with ‘everyday living’ are given a label and associated treatment and responses, which those outside of mental health services wouldn’t have to experience?

The label of ‘challenging behaviour’ associates the individual as being the problem, whereas ‘behaviour of concern’ puts the emphasis on the behaviour and not the individual.

Positive Behaviour Support shows staff that their actions and styles of engagement can severely impact escalation of behaviours, and teaches the importance of communication with service users to further understand a person’s behaviour.