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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #354
CE Offered: BACB
Rapport Construction: Creating Objective Programs and Goals, to Better Our Relationships With Our Clients
Sunday, May 26, 2019
6:00 PM–6:50 PM
Hyatt Regency West, Ballroom Level, Regency Ballroom B
Area: AUT/DEV; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Damali Alexander (Proud Moments ABA )
CE Instructor: Aline Kovacs, LSW

A crucial, and often underdeveloped component of ABA sessions is the rapport building process, in which the therapist pairs him or herself with reinforcement. Often times, the rapport building process is rushed through or not prioritized. In clinical practice, most rapport-building programs are not developed into objective, measurable goals. This makes it difficult to objectively determine real-time progress for both the client and the staff member running the program. Because of this, many third-party payers have difficulty understanding and reimbursing for this period of services. In this presentation, we will bring the rapport building practice back to a behavior analytic model. We will give an overview of the research in this area. Furthermore, we will discuss the best methods to use while pairing with clients of varying need, how to create objective, measurable programs and goals, and how to best conduct and document a pairing phase that abides by medical necessity criteria to fit with third party payer guidelines.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Any licensed behavior analysts, administrators of ABA agencies working with insurance companies, BCaBAs and Behavior Analyst Assistants

Learning Objectives: Attendees will define objective, measurable mastery criteria for effective pairing between a client and a behavior technician. Attendees will design objective, measurable pairing long term objectives to reach a good quality rapport between clients and staff members. Attendees design objective, measurable short term objectives to reach a good quality rapport between clients and staff members Attendees will identify ways to pair with reinforcement for clients of varying levels of functioning and reinforcement preferences Attendees will identify and design objective, quantitatively measurable short and long term objectives for clients in a clinical setting
A Research Review and Discussion of the Pairing Process in Clinical Settings
ALINE KOVACS (Proud Moments ABA), Joseph O'Keefe (Proud Moments ABA), Andrea Kotler (Proud Moments ABA)
Abstract: The pairing process is an imperative component of the client-therapist relationship, yet it is often seen in practice as a subjective way to “make the client like you.” As behavior analysts, however, we always make informed decisions based on measurement, evidence and research. This presentation explores a brief history of the the research and literature behind the pairing and rapport building process in clinical settings, based on the definitions by Carr et al. (1994) and Sundberg & Partington (1998). We will evaluate the evidence in research studies that focuses on building rapport with clients, including McLaughlin & Carr (2005) and Kelly et al. (2015), and see what methods were used to create quantitative changes in client behavior and in the relationships between clients and staff members. In addition, the audience will learn how to build a pairing program for clients with varying levels of functioning and different reinforcers. Staff training methods to teach staff members to build rapport with clients will also be discussed. Further, this presentation will look at where the research on this topic is lacking, and what questions we have for the future of this subject.

Producing Practical Measures for the Pairing Process and How to Develop Goals That Satisfy Third Party Payer Guidelines

ANDREA KOTLER (Proud Moments ABA), Joseph O'Keefe (Proud Moments ABA), Aline Kovacs (Proud Moments ABA)

Based on the research discussed previously, this presentation will illustrate different examples of pairing methods, writing short term and long-term objective, as well as clear and concise goals that adhere to the best practice standards of behavior analysis. Third-party payers reimburse for services that show measurable changes in our client’s behaviors, and often only reimburse for changes that they deem “medically necessary.” Due to an increasing amount of individuals receiving services through third-party payers, we will show how to present the paring phase of services in a way that explains the medical necessity of the process. In order to create a treatment plan that illustrates measurable progress, all goals must be clear, objective and measurable. Every short term and long term objective must show “who” is doing “what” and under “what context.” After learning about the best practices for rapport building in the literature, the audience will learn how to make modifications in rapport building goals according to their specific client’s interests, abilities, and willingness to participate. We will go over the anatomy of the pairing goals to create quantitative progress in our clients’ behaviors and their relationships with staff members.




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Modifed by Eddie Soh