Pleasant Events Diary
Age/Grade: 6th grade – High School
Setting: School, Clinic, In-patient
Individual or Group: Individual
Tier: 2 & 3
Desired/ Appropriate Behavior:
Positive mood, healthy behaviors, social behaviors, relax/calm (reduction in nervous behaviors)
Skill Level: Fluency to maintenance; not used for acquisition of skills
Pleasant Events Diary is an intervention that is used as a treatment for adolescents who experience negative moods/behaviors that are characterized as sadness, irritability, or nervousness that is atypical
of their peer group. Behaviors that children may exhibit include but are not limited to inappropriate emotional response or no emotional response to a situation, social withdrawal, excessive sleeping, reduction in sleeping, excessive communication about a topic (i.e., perseveration), excessive motoric behaviors (e.g., fidgety, pacing, repetitive motions), changes in diet or weight, changes in activity level, physical or verbal aggression, and social rejection. The intervention may be implemented as a standalone or supplementary treatment.
The Pleasant Events Diary is a Behavior Activation Treatment specifically targeting contextual factors that affect behavior. The premise is that children who exhibit the aforementioned behaviors do so because (a) reward (reinforcement) availability is low or nonexistent for healthy behaviors (e.g., exercising; eating
healthy; being active in the home, school, community; having good bi-directional relationships; and communicating with others) and/or (b) the negative behaviors being displayed are rewarded at a much
higher rate, frequency, duration, or magnitude. For example, a child
may not be obtaining peer attention for attempts at social communication but obtains adult attention for verbally complaining. Another example is children who experience repetitive thoughts, such as worrying, which allow them to avoid experiencing and or participating in activities or situations and the associated emotional consequence. Worry might function to avoid (negative reinforcement) greater stimulation and distress.
The theory behind Behavior Activation Treatment, and thus the Pleasant Events Diary, acknowledges there may be feelings and cognitions that exist apart from the exhibited behaviors. However, the primary goal is to change the behaviors of the individual to ones that are healthier for the individual so that the individual can obtain the desired goals. Each child or individual sets values on different aspects of life. For example, one child may put more focus on academic goals, while another child may focus more on social relationships. The Pleasant Events Diary allows and fosters the process for individual goals. The Pleasant Events Diary has been successful in treating depression and anxiety in adolescents.