Snyder, J. J., & White, M. J. (1979). The use of cognitive self-instruction in the treatment of behaviorally disturbed adolescents. Behavior Therapy, 10(2), 227–235.

Compared to other forms of treatment, cognitive self-instruction resulted in improvements in the performance of daily living requirements and decreases in impulsive behaviors. Researchers tested the efficacy of cognitive self-instruction against another form of treatment, contingency awareness, as well as against no treatment. They examined fifteen behaviorally disturbed adolescents selected because they showed little change in behavior after a previous operant behavior modification program.

The members of the cognitive self-instruction received six sessions of training (over four weeks) on the effects of private speech, developing and rehearsing their own responses, applying their skills and discussing the results. The contingency awareness group received the same schedule of instruction and focused on the awareness of issues and possible behavior changes but without mentioning self-verbalizations.

The behavior of the members of each group was monitored for a two-week block before, immediately after, and seven weeks after treatment in terms of their class absences, impulsive behaviors, and failure to complete social/self-care tasks. The results found showed improved behavior in the cognitive self-instruction group, but not in the other two groups. Furthermore, the improvements in the self-instruction group not only continued, but grew, with fewer behavioral problems appearing in the later follow-up than in the period immediately after treatment.

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