Managing Challenging Behaviours - Program Summary

Recognising Challenging Behaviours
Challenging behaviours, such as excessive gaming or substance misuse, negatively impact important aspects of life, like work or relationships. It’s important to ask if the behaviour feels uncontrollable or is consuming more time than intended. Acknowledging and addressing these behaviours is a testament to your strength and resilience, not a personal failure.

The Brain & Challenging Behaviours
Challenging behaviours can hijack the brain’s reward system, creating a reinforcing cycle of dopamine release and cravings. Understanding this cycle sheds light on why certain behaviours are hard to control and why changing them can be uncomfortable. But with time, perseverance, and proper strategies, our brains can unlearn these associations, allowing us to break free.

Stages of Change
Change is a process. The stages—Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance—help to map one’s journey towards change. Acknowledging that relapses are not failures but learning opportunities, and being kind to oneself through the process, is pivotal. Each step taken is a mark of courage, persistence, and progress.

Understanding & Surfing Urges
Urges, akin to waves, build, peak, and subside. “Urge surfing” involves acknowledging the presence of an urge, observing its physiological effects without acting on it, and patiently allowing it to pass. Mindfulness can be a practical tool for this. Over time, successfully surfing urges helps to break the old reinforcement cycle, leading to less frequent and less intense urges.

Managing Triggers & Building Supports
Triggers provoke urges or challenging behaviours. Managing them might involve reducing exposure, such as careful social interaction choices, or developing healthier responses through new coping skills, like exercise or mindfulness. Reconnecting with a care team to revisit and refresh skills can be valuable. Each step, each managed trigger, is a step towards a richer, more connected life.