Positive Behavioral Support Planning in the Inpatient Treatment of Severe Disruptive Behaviors: A Description of Service Features

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Positive behavior support (PBS) plans are increasingly used on inpatient units to assess and treat serious and dangerous behaviors displayed by patients with serious psychiatric impairment. A contemporary extension of traditional applied behavior analytic procedures, PBS plans integrate theories from several domains with perspectives on community psychology, positive psychology, and recovery-oriented care. Because there is little evidence to suggest that more invasive, punitive disciplinary strategies lead to long-term positive behavioral change (Parkes, 1996), PBS plans have emerged as an alternative to the use of seclusion and restraint or other forms of restrictive measures typically used on inpatient psychiatric units (Hammer et al., 2011). Moreover, PBS plans are a preferred method of intervention because more invasive interventions often cause more harm than good to all involved (Elliott et al., 2005). This article seeks to provide an integrated framework for the development of positive behavior support plans in inpatient psychiatric settings. In addition to explicating the philosophy and core elements of PBS plans, this work includes discussion of the didactic and pragmatic aspects of training clinical staff in inpatient mental health settings. A case vignette is included for illustration and to highlight the use of PBS plans as a mechanism for helping patients transition to less restrictive settings. This work will add to the scant literature examining the use of positive behavioral support plans in inpatient psychiatric settings.

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