Measuring Change – Conquering Mountains (pt. 2 of 2)

We left off climbing that mountain of change. There we were introduced to three specific scales 

FREQUENCY – INTENSITY – DURATION. 

So what exactly does measuring each of these scales look like, you ask? Great Question! 

FREQUENCY. How often is the behavior occurring. 

Progress here can be measured if the behavior is occurring less often per day, or even simply not happening every day of the week.  

For example, usually he has 3 tantrums before bed, and tonight he only had two.

For more example, usually I have a panic attack each day at lunch, and this week it only happened 4 of the 5 days.  

INTENSITY.  How intense is the behavior as it is occurring.  On a scale from 0-10, how difficult, overwhelming, or all-encompassing is the behavior. (this one can be a little more objective than the others AND still important to observe) 

For example, if we’re measuring a tantrum, Measuring if you’re able to communicate with them at any point during the behavior, if it simply feels less difficult or intense, the intensity of their voice – screeching vs. screaming vs. yelling vs. talking loud, slamming the door vs. shutting the door, or them being able to take space or utilize a coping skill rather than being engulfed in their behavior.   Baby steps is the name of the game. 

For more example, if we’re measuring worry thoughts, measuring how extreme the thoughts were from “I can’t breathe” to “I feel pressure on my chest”. “I am going to die” to “I am really worried”.  

DURATION. How long does the behavior last.

Remembering that even a decrease of one minute or 30 seconds is a sign of progress.   It’s important to remember to not get stuck on just these scales of measurement – but the overall picture of what is going on.  And if we’re measuring change in a kiddo, paying attention if the behavior is normal to the situation your child is experiencing or if it is age appropriate.  Or having anxiety before a big test- that’s normal! 

We need to set ourselves up for realistic expectations.  Not just behaviors that are appropriate to the situation, but to also remember: CHANGE TAKES TIME.  Which sucks- yes. And doesn’t make that fact any less true. When we have unrealistic expectations and expect a magic wand result, we often set ourselves up for failure.  For all you colorodans out there, could you imagine getting to a 14’er at 10am and expecting to summit before noon to avoid an afternoon storm? It makes the hike up a little less enjoyable if you’re trying to simply race up the mountain to avoid the storm. More likely than not you will hit the storm – and worse – you won’t be prepared for the storm.  Slow and steady. That’s where change builds. {I know, another analogy where change comes from – I just can’t help myself!} Keep climbing, my friends- keep climbing. 

*The information contained herein is not therapeutic advice nor a substitute for therapy. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any mental health problem. If you are located within the United States and you need emergency assistance please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you are located within Colorado you may also call the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-TALK (8255).

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