The DSM-IV-TR in which the DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the TR stands for text revision. The purpose of this book is to help mental health professionals diagnose mental health issues. Behavior modifiers use the DSM to categorize clients because schools, clinics, hospitals, and social service agencies typically require a diagnosis presented from the DSM. Another reason that behavior modifiers use the DSM is because insurance companies require a DSM diagnosis prior to paying for services. From a behavioral standpoint behavior modifiers use the latest DSM because it is based on research, and problem behaviors are categorized when referring to mental health disorders. Behavior modifiers recognize that the DSM does have limitations, with one of the most important limitations being that using the DSM may result in labeling a person. The problem with labeling people is the assumption that if they have the same label then they are all the same, which implies that the same treatment can be used. Labels may also lead to false explanations of behaviors. These labels may involve the person being treated in a manner that is not helpful or appropriate for the person. Behavior modifiers typically attempt to use a language that is respectful of people. This is considered a humanistic approach. In a humanistic approach you do not label the person as the mental health disorder, for example, behavior modifiers would not say you are an alcoholic, they would say you are a person living with alcohol problems. Behavior modification is a humanistic approach to treating behavioral issues, and recognizes that genetics does influence behaviors to a certain extent, but by using a behavioral approach the focus is mainly put on making changes in the environment to influence changes in the behavior of the individual. This is humanistic in that the individual is recognized and understood to have the ability change behavior despite genetics. An example of this approach could be applied to problems with alcohol. A behavior modifier would not be concerned with the label just the behaviors. In this case the DSM would only be used for billing purposes. The behavior modifier would focus on factors of alcohol consumption, which might include: the location where the person drinks the most; the thoughts that precede drinking alcohol; the people in the environment when alcohol is consumed. This perception is humanistic because it allows the behavior modifier and the person being treated to look at changeable factors of the behavior to create the desired outcome for the person. The behavior modification approach to solving mental health problems is humanistic because each person treated has an individualized treatment plan that is designed to work for one person. This is not to attack other mental health professionals who work from the DSM this is just to point out that behavior modification is just as humanistic as any other mental health profession.
Martin, G. & Pear, J. (2011). Behavior modification: What it is and how to do it (9th Ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.