Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.

49th Annual Convention

Presidential Scholar


ABAI is pleased to announce Amie Zarling, Ph.D., as the 2023 Presidential Scholar. Her address, “New Ways of Preventing and Treating Domestic Violence for Individuals, Families, and Communities,” will discuss current findings regarding domestic violence; review  traditional methods of treating domestic violence, including the criminal justice response; and describe the use of novel approaches such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in the treatment and prevention of family violence. The Presidential Scholar Address is scheduled for Saturday, May 27, 2023, from 6:00–6:50 PM Mountain Daylight Time. All convention registrants are welcome and encouraged to attend this talk.


Dr. Amie Zarling

Amie Zarling, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and an associate professor at Iowa State University in the Human Development and Family Studies program where she maintains an active research program focused on developing and testing evidence-based interventions for under-served and/or under-resourced populations. One of the primary areas of her work is the prevention and treatment of family violence, and evaluating programs based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for domestic violence and criminal behavior. Dr. Zarling has received over $2 million in funding for her work, including multiple grants from the Office on Violence Against Women and the Department of Justice. She is the recent recipient of the American Psychological Foundation’s Visionary Award and the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science’s Early Career Award.


New Ways of Preventing and Treating Domestic Violence for Individuals, Families, and Communities

Domestic violence is a public health problem affecting millions of families each year. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, psychological, or technological actions or other patterns of coercive behavior within an intimate relationship. Domestic violence not only affects those who are abused, but also family members, friends, co-workers, other witnesses, and communities. Children who have witnessed domestic violence are among those most seriously affected. This presentation highlights current approaches and traditional treatments for domestic violence. These approaches often take place in the context of the criminal justice system and punitive methods. Unfortunately, these methods rarely produce the desired effect and often lead to further harm for the individual, family, and wider community, and disproportionately impacting non-white people. One novel treatment approach we have implemented and studied is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which relies on principles and techniques of behavior analysis. I will discuss the application of ACT to individuals who cause harm, and outline the barriers and opportunities that have emerged from this work. Developing programs that are effective for these individuals has evolved to also include the professionals, communities, and contexts in which violence prevention and treatment occurs.

Modifed by Eddie Soh