Contingency management (or CM) is a longstanding form of behavior therapy that uses positive reinforcement to encourage clients to achieve treatment goals. Positive reinforcement is a behavioral concept with a strong history of research support. Rewarding a behavior soon after it’s been demonstrated tends to encourage repetition of that behavior going forward. It’s a concept that has been used widely in people of all ages and settings, from teachers rewarding kids with stickers for turning in their homework, to a boss who gives their employee a bonus or merit raise for a job well done.
In addiction treatment, this type of reward system can have a similarly powerful impact on clients. Clients are typically rewarded for adherence to treatment – for example, attending required visits, engaging in those visits in a useful way, taking prescribed medications, or remaining substance abstinent. When clients achieve a behavior-related goal, they are rewarded in a tangible way, increasing their motivation to continue in treatment and improve their chances for successful recovery. Research has also found that CM increases morale among both clients and staff, and can help create stronger, more-affirming relationships between clients and their counselors, as well as between staff themselves. (3 CEUS)