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Managing Aggression Using Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions: State Of The Practice And Future Directions

Stephen W. Smith, John E. Lochman, Ann P. Daunic

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Education professionals consistently rank disruptive/aggressive student behavior as persistent and troubling, reporting various types of maladaptive behaviors ranging from talking out in class to assault. Researchers suggest that childhood aggression accounts for a high proportion of the referrals to special education for emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). Teachers who work with students with EBD have traditionally relied on externally applied behavioral techniques to manage aggressive behavior, but researchers more recently have studied interventions that use traditional behavioral principles of behavior change along with cognitive components to increase student self-regulation, prevent or ameliorate aggressive behavior patterns, and increase constructive social interactions and long-term behavioral change. With this in mind, we examine aggression from a contextual social cognitive perspective, describe the cognitive-behavioral approach to intervention, provide examples of cognitive-behavioral programs aimed at reducing aggression and teaching appropriate replacement behaviors, and conclude with comments about the future direction of cognitive-behavioral interventions in classrooms for students with EBD