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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.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Seminar; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #2
Integrating ACT and its Underlying Model into Mainstream Behavior Analysis
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
9:00 AM–10:40 AM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Harbor Ballroom ABC
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Steven C. Hayes, Ph.D.
Chair: Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids)
STEVEN C. HAYES (University of Nevada, Reno)
Dr. Hayes received his Ph.D. from West Virginia University and currently serves as professor in the behavior analysis program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno. Dr. Hayes has a record of voluminous research and substantial impact, within behavior analysis and beyond, with 43 books and more than 600 publications. He is one of only three behavior analysts in the world with an h-index above 100 in Google Scholar ( He is the principal developer of relational frame theory and acceptance and commitment therapy, highly influential behavior analytic approaches to language and cognition, and evidence-based intervention, respectively, that have generated considerable research and achieved widespread adoption. Dr. Hayes’s contributions to teaching and service have also been exemplary. He served as department chair at UNR, and with Linda Hayes launched the behavior analysis program there. Dr. Hayes has held many influential service (e.g., president of Division 25, the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science [ACBS], and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies [ABCT]) and editorial (e.g., AE of JABA) positions, and has received numerous awards for his work (e.g., the SABA Awards for International Dissemination of Behavior Analysis and the Impact of Science on Application, the APA Don Hake Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from ABCT). His contributions span philosophical, methodological, basic, and applied domains with remarkable breadth and depth.
Abstract: Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) is a training-based version of a psychotherapeutic approach with the same acronym that is based on the assumptions, models, and principles of a contemporary off-shoot of mainstream behavior analysis: Contextual Behavioral Science (CBS). CBS can best be thought of as behavior analysis as it appears following the full integrations of Relational Frame Theory (RFT) into the set of behavioral principles used by behavior analysts to conduct functional analyses and to extend those into analytic-abstractive theories within a domain. The present talk will briefly describe the history of ACT and its underlying applied and basic model. It is my general argument that literally everything in CBS is a direct extension of behavior analysis viewed as the scientific and professional tradition established by B. F. Skinner, that is, as a field that is functional and contextual in its assumptions, embracing evolution science as the umbrella covering the life sciences, and that is anti-mechanistic and reductionistic. Not everyone views behavior analysis in a way that is consistent with these Skinnerian ideas, but for those who do, I argue that there is no reason not to use ACT, RFT, and the underlying applied model of human behavioral functioning, the Psychological Flexibility Model, as a basis for behavior analytic research and practice. In this talk I will give a sense of the findings from the now vast set of studies on these topics (the number likely exceeds 2,000, depending on how the line is drawn). I will show that ACT and its underlying basic and applied model is already known to impact many of the key concerns faced by practicing behavior analysts, and I will argue that it allows behavior analysts to address the role of private events and verbal relations in ways that are non-mentalistic, understandable to others, helpful to outcomes, and within the scope of practice of BCBAa.
Target Audience: Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) specify the six key elements of the Psychological Flexibility Model; (2) describe how the behavior analytic research on rule-governed behavior relates to acceptance and defusion; (3) give at least one example of a specific intervention technique that might readily be used by BCBAs in the areas of acceptance, defusion, and values; (4) describe the state of evidence on ACT and its underlying components as broadly applicable intervention methods; (5) describe at least one applied study on ACT done in a traditional area of intervention for BCBAs.



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