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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #533
CE Offered: BACB
Emerging Research on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Behavior Analysts
Monday, May 28, 2018
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Seaport Ballroom C
Area: PRA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University)
Discussant: Adam DeLine Hahs (Arizona State University)
CE Instructor: Alyssa N. Wilson, Ph.D.

Behavior analysts are called to provide socially acceptable interventions for children and adults across a variety of behavior problems, including socio-emotional challenges and deficits. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been shown to be an effective therapeutic intervention across psychological, behavioral, and socio-cultural topographies. While promising, more work is needed to determine behavioral effects of ACT with children and young adults. Similarly, research on the development of psychological surveys and assessments specifically targeting theoretical concepts such as values and delayed discounting is warranted. Therefore, the purpose of the current symposium is twofold. The first paper will present research using ACT on student engagement in on and off-task behaviors in the classroom. The second paper will present findings from a new assessment tool developed to help clinicians identify and interpret values as choice allocation. With the use of a discussant, the proposed symposium will offer behavior analysts further evidence into how to use ACT with children and young adults with various emotional challenges.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): ACT, behavior therapy, Emotional dysregulation, psychological flexibility
Target Audience:

Target audience is BCBAs, BCaBAs, and psychologists as appropriate.

Learning Objectives: At the end of the symposium, attendees will be able to: 1. Label mechanisms of change within the ACT model 2. Identify behavioral theories of values as choice allocation and as relational responding 3. Use ACT techniques to increase on-task behaviors in children and adolescents

Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy at School With Children and Adolescents With Autism and Emotional Challenges

JAMIE DEVILLEZ (Saint Louis University), Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University), Emily Dzugan (Saint Louis University )

The purpose of the present study was to replicate previous research on using ACT for children with Autism and emotional challenges. A nonconcurrent multiple baseline with withdrawal design was used to determine the effects of an ACT intervention on student engagement in on-task and off-task behaviors. Seventeen students (n=7 classroom 1; n=10 classroom 2) completed 20min of group ACT sessions three times a week, for 10-15 weeks. Target behaviors were tracked using a PLAYCHECK 20s momentary time sample procedure during classroom observational periods. During baseline, students across classrooms engaged in moderately high rates of off-task behavior, when compared to rates of on-task behaviors. However, when treatment was implemented, students immediately engaged in higher rates of on-task behaviors (M percentage of responses across baseline (BL) and treatment (Tx): Class 1 BL = 44%, Tx= 70%; Class 2 M BL= 38%, Tx= 61%), when compared to off-task (Class 1 M BL= 45%, Tx= 23%; Class 2 M BL= 60%, Tx= 32%). While preliminary, the current treatment approach may be beneficial for behavior analysts looking for prevention strategies to use in their clinical practice.


Interpreting Values as Choice Allocation, Hierarchical Verbal Relations, and a Pragmatic Tool for Intervention

DANA PALILIUNAS (Southern Illinois University), Jordan Belisle (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)

Values, from a clinical application perspective, are defined as chosen qualities of purposive action that are linked to patterns of behavior that help to increase an individual's access to reinforcement. We will describe two different, yet compatible behavioral scientific theories of values as both choice allocation in a discounting framework, as well as verbally constructed hierarchical relations as described in Relational Frame Theory. The first conceptualization is supported with data showing convergent validity between participant responses on delay and social discounting surveys, and self-reported values on the Valued Living Questionnaire. The second conceptualization is supported by basic experimental analyses examining the influence of hierarchical relations in college students. Finally, we will demonstrate the effectiveness of a values-based technology for improving the educational values of college students, with corresponding improvements in academic performance and psychological flexibility in a randomized control trial evaluation. These studies support behavioral modelling of values and the development of applied technologies that make use of values-based intervention strategies.




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