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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #445
CE Offered: BACB
Advances in Clinical Behavior Analysis
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Crystal Ballroom C, Hyatt Regency, Green West
Area: CBM/TPC; Domain: Translational
Chair: Joanne K. Robbins (Morningside Academy)
Discussant: Richard T. Codd (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Center of WNC, PA)
CE Instructor: T. V. Joe Layng, Ph.D.
Abstract: This symposium presents an overview of important new research and conceptual foundations for a behavior analytic approach to complex clinical issues. In the 1970s work at the University of Chicago’s Behavior Analysis Research Laboratory directed by Israel Goldiamond pioneered an exciting new approach to understanding and intervening in complex human problems. This approach had its its roots in the consideration of disturbing behavior as being an adaptive outcome of normal behavioral processes and not maladaptive or pathological. This Constructional Approach formed the basis for interventions that included the consideration of alternative sets of consequential contingencies resulting in what became known as Topical and Systemic interventions. The approach treats emotions as indicators of contingencies and works to sensitize patient behavior to them in terms of the contingencies they reflect, and harnessing them in a problem solving strategy that is primarily patient/client directed. Patient verbal behavior is likewise treated as the sensible outcome of consequential contingencies, including the tendency of response bias to enter into self-descriptions and reports. The work presented in this symposium provides clinical case studies involving complex behavioral problems, new formal research concerned with helping parents of autistic children, research on the potential for response bias when using surveys in clinical research, and experimental laboratory contributions to the study of Constructional Change Therapy and Mentoring.
Keyword(s): Autism, Clinical, Constructional, Therapy
Need Results Fast? Use Your Imagination: Response Bias in Questionnaire Reports
RUSSELL LAYNG (Scout My Style)
Abstract: In a classic study Azrin, Holtz, and Goldiamond (1961) raised the issue of the role response bias may play in survey research. They found response patterns obtained by means of questionnaire almost completely predictable on the basis of response bias. Despite the implications of their findings, questionnaire reports with no control for response bias remain prevalent; further, these results are often treated as dependent variables in clinical studies. The research presented here examines the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (AAQ-II), “which assesses the construct referred to as, variously, acceptance, experiential avoidance, and psychological inflexibility” (Bond et al, 2011). The study investigated whether the pretreatment to post treatment results obtained by this questionnaire may be a product of response bias. Participants, without knowledge of the purpose of the study, were drawn from a pool of online survey responders and given prompts designed to reflect the likely "demand characteristics" implicit in the administration of the AAQ-II. Pretreatment prompts produced questionnaire responses reflecting high psychological inflexibility, while post treatment prompts produced responses showing significant improvement (p < .01). No treatment was provided. The present findings suggest that questionnaire responses may be independent of the behavior being studied, and unreliable indicators of clinical change.

Toward Happiness: A Constructional Approach to Improving the Lives of Parents With Children Diagnosed With Autism

TIMOTHY ALLEN LIDEN (University of North Texas), Jesus Rosales-Ruiz (University of North Texas)

Parents of children diagnosed with autism face a variety of stressors. Parents who are unable to successfully cope with these stressors are often given labels such as anxious, angry or depressed. The typical treatment approach is pathological and focuses on the problem, often through counseling, behavioral therapy, tutoring, and/or drugs. This presentation will show data from a study that assessed an alternative approach, the constructional approach (Goldiamond, 1974). Three parents were taught how to build off of their strengths and assets and how to analyze their life, formulate goals, and develop programs to reach these goals. Teaching this new repertoire enabled the parents to make changes in their lives and reach their goals. Also, for each parent, the percentage of time each day during which she felt happy increased. Each parent was able to reduce or eliminate her stressors by analyzing the circumstances and focusing on her ideal outcome, rather than focusing on her psychological deficits and misfortunes of life. The results suggest that the use of a constructional program is very effective in helping parents develop a new repertoire that will ultimately improve their overall quality of life.

Complex Constructional Change: Topical vs. Systemic Clinical Intervention
T. V. JOE LAYNG (ChangePartner Healthcare)
Abstract: In “topical intervention” the presenting complaint is either treated directly, or its function is determined and intervention proceeds accordingly. One may also consider the consequences contingent not only on the disturbing pattern, but the consequences contingent on its alternatives as well. This type of topical intervention seeks to understand the behavior by attending to the matrix of outcomes (costs and benefits) of both the disturbing pattern and its available alternatives. A “systemic intervention” also considers the matrix into which the disturbing pattern enters, but asks what potentiates the consequences and their relations. Often, consequential contingencies that are a part of yet other matrices may be the source of such potentiation. Intervention may be targeted at these systemic relations and not at the presenting complaint or the matrix into which it enters. Clinical examples will show how the presenting complaint may often be considered a symptom of these systemic relations. Attention to these systemic matrices may result in the disturbing behavior "dropping out" without direct attention to the presenting complaint or symptom (Goldiamond, 1979, 1984; Layng, 2009; Layng and Andronis, 1984). The implications for understanding and treating complex behavior of clinical interest will be discussed.
A Radical Proposal for Training and Practice in Applied Behavior Analysis
PAUL THOMAS THOMAS ANDRONIS (Northern Michigan University)
Abstract: The term “behavior modification” for the most part has been supplanted by “applied behavior analysis” as a description of the application of behavioral principles in practical settings. Though this is a welcomed development, it seems to have coincided with a regression of both training and practice to the heady early days of behavior modification, back in the late nineteen-sixties to early nineteen-seventies. Many contemporary applied programs seem to be only modestly improved, “cookie-cutter” version of interventions available since the sixties. The successful implementation of behavioral technologies in various settings and with diverse populations has proceeded apace, but apparently at the expense of the more perspicuous analyses and invention that characterized the early days in the field. Students trained in applied behavior analysis are often wholly unaware of classic experimental work, and are acquainted only superficially with the major contributors. The present paper will survey some important areas of the experimental analysis of behavior that remain under-appreciated with respect to their potential contributions to the analysis of behavior in applied settings, and calls for a return to the roots of our interest and investment in a comprehensive science of behavior.



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