Modifying the behavior of the violent patient

Psychiatr Q. Winter 1993;64(4):359-69. doi: 10.1007/BF01064928.


Different behavioral techniques are briefly described for treating the violent patient in a hospital setting. Emphasis is placed on doing a careful assessment of the situation and behavior before attempting a behavioral intervention. It is also emphasized that all staff members involved be adequately trained, otherwise the procedures tend to fail. Techniques include strategies for changing the environment, as well as using relaxation procedures, systematic desensitization, differential reinforcement schedules, token economies, response cost, time out, and social skills training. Multi-component programs are also briefly mentioned. The paper emphasizes that violent behavior can be greatly reduced if approached in a systematic way, using procedures based on sound research methodology.

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy / education
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Desensitization, Psychologic
  • Education
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Personnel, Hospital / education
  • Reinforcement Schedule
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Violence*