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 #535
CE Offered: BACB
Why and How Behavior Analysis Can Use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Disseminate Applied Behavior Analysis.
Monday, May 27, 2019
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Swissôtel, Lucerne Ballroom Level, Lucerne 1/2
Area: PCH/DEV; Domain: Translational
Chair: Katherine J. Saint (Fox Valley Autism Treatment Program, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology )
Discussant: Brad Brezinski (Florida Institute of Technology, Fox Valley Autism Treatment Program )
CE Instructor: Katherine J. Saint, M.A.

The dissemination of Behavior Analysis is vital to spreading the impact of behavior analytic strategies. Applied Behavior Analysis is best known for its work with Autism but can be useful in any domain. Dixon (2018) reports that in order to spread Behavior Analysis’ impact the field needs to offer technology that is useful and does not include jargon that is unapproachable to people outside the field. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy meets this criteria and has already been accepted in many fields. For example it’s use for behavioral improvement, medical conditions and staff training has been published in approximately 99 academic journals. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is based in Relational Frame Theory which has been accepted in the behavior analytic research for over 30 years. Other behavior analytic strategies support the processes of Acceptance and Commitment therapy such as motivating operations, contingency awareness training, and strategies to address the impact of delayed discounting.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): ACT, RFT
Target Audience:

Behavior Analysts and other practitioners

Learning Objectives: 1. Learners will identify the principles of Behavior Analysis used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. 2. Learners will identify application methods of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy 3. Learners will identify the history and previous application of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as well as the domains in which it is currently being used.
How Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Behavior Analysis are Compatible
KATHERINE J. SAINT (Fox Valley Autism Treatment Program, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology )
Abstract: The mission of Behavior Analysis is to save the world. Dixon (2018) stated that the field has not yet reached this lofty goal created by B.F. Skinner in 1982. Dixon challenges Behavior Analysts to evaluate their own behavior to identify why there hasn’t been a bigger impact. Two examples of obstacles in the dissemination of Behavior Analysis include the amount of work Behavior Analysis has done with Autism and the language that Behavior Analysts use. Because of the amount of attention Behavior Analysis has gotten from the work in Autism treatment many people do not realize Behavior Analysis can be useful in other areas. Additionally people have a hard time implementing Behavior Analytic strategies because they do not understand the field’s jargon. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a potential solution to these obstacles. Lack of education on how Acceptance and Commitment Therapy uses Behavior Analytic principles may be limiting its expansion into mainstream Behavior Analytic practice. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy addresses the jargon barrier of the dissemination of Behavior Analysis and the misconception about Behavior Analysis only addressing Autism services because it uses everyday language and has already been accepted in many fields. Step one of addressing the barrier of using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as a dissemination tool is educating Behavior Analysts on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, its uses and its application.
Application of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
(Service Delivery)
BRAD BREZINSKI (Florida Institute of Technology, Fox Valley Autism Treatment Program )
Abstract: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) can be a useful tool for spreading Behavior Analysis. As of October 2018, ACT has been published in 99 journals according Web of Science (2018). These journals include but are not limited to the fields of Behavior Analysis, psychology, OBM, drug and alcohol abuse, sports, forensics, education, and medical fields. PsychInfo lists 1303 peer reviewed articles when searching “acceptance and commitment therapy”. Proquest lists 547 articles, PubMed lists 739 articles and Web of science lists 965 articles. Behavior Analysis is often thought of as only Autism treatment but ACT heavily demonstrates that Behavior Analysis is effective with many populations. Of the peer reviewed articles on ACT, more than 20 mental health diagnoses were addressed, more than 30 medical diagnoses were treated, relationship problems were resolved, attrition was reduced, therapy compliance was increased, extreme drug use was reduced, and behavior problems were eliminated. ACT has been shown to be effective for all ages. Medical doctors are often a referral source and much of the research on ACT includes pain management and other medical diagnoses. Because ACT is accepted by the medical field Behavior Analysts could use it as a referral source by using ACT in behavioral treatment. ACT is also useful to Behavior Analysts for staff training. ACT is accepted in Behavior Analysis because of its roots in Relational Frame Theory and other Behavior Analytic strategies. Because ACT is also accepted by many fields Behavior Analysts educating others on ACT and using act is a useful tool to help spread the use of Behavior Analysis and could potentially open up more funding sources for Behavior Analysis.



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