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 #346
CE Offered: BACB
Considerations for Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in Practice: Ethics, Psychometrics, and Novel Populations
Sunday, May 26, 2019
5:00 PM–6:50 PM
Swissôtel, Event Center Second Floor, St. Gallen 1-3
Area: CBM; Domain: Translational
Chair: Mary Grace Cavaliere (Saint Louis University)
Discussant: Luisa F Canon (Institute for Effective Behavioral Interventions)
CE Instructor: Victoria Diane Hutchinson, M.S.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been shown to be an effective treatment strategy, and behavior analysts are beginning to use it in their clinical practice. However, minimal resources exist to assist clinicians with selecting psychometric tools and implementing ACT with novel populations. Further, behavior analysts must consider ethical conduct when using ACT, to ensure they adhere to their code of ethics. Therefore, the current symposium will focus on considerations for using ACT in practice across three domains: ethics, psychometrics, and innovative ways to use ACT with novel populations. The first paper will discuss how a brief 4-session ACT package was developed and implemented for a novel population, female university students with anxiety. The second paper will discuss a new psychometric survey, the Children’s Psychological Flexibility Questionnaire (CPFQ), and the convergent validity of the CPFQ with caregiver report. The third paper will focus on the effects of ACT on staff engagement in positive interactions when implementing behavioral programs for children with autism. Finally, the fourth paper will discuss ethical considerations for behavior analysts using ACT, and will highlight strategies for using ACT consistent language and functional intervention techniques while adhering to the ethical code of conduct.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Board Certified Behavior Analysts, Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts, Registered Behavior Technicians

Learning Objectives: At the end of the symposium, attendees will: 1. Define mechanisms of change within an ACT treatment package 2. Identify psychometrics and other related measures useful when implementing ACT 3. Label ethical considerations and function-based strategies for using ACT in practice 4. Demonstrate knowledge for using ACT with novel populations
The Effects of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy on College Students’ Anxiety and Psychological Flexibility
(Applied Research)
ARIANNA CHAROS (Arizona State University), Alison Parker (Arizona State University), Adam DeLine Hahs (Arizona State University)
Abstract: Recent statistics suggest that 4.2% of undergraduate and 3.8% of graduate students suffer from anxiety disorders. Of these students, women are more than twice as likely than men to meet the criteria for one of these disorders (Eisenberg, Gollust, Golberstein & Hefner, 2007). A promising treatment for anxiety and related problems is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT; Hayes, 2004). ACT has been shown to be effective for a variety of conditions (Hayes, 2004), but to the author’s knowledge has not been examined for anxiety in female university students specifically. A multiple probe design was used to evaluate the effects of a brief, 4-session ACT package on anxiety and psychological flexibility in this population. The Beck Anxiety Inventory (Julian, 2011), the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II (Bond et al., 2011), and a social validity measure specific to the study were also used. Results and implications of a brief ACT approach for this population will be discussed.

An Assessment of Convergent Validity on the Children's Psychological Flexibility Questionnaire: Child Report and CPFQ: Caregiver Report in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Related

(Basic Research)
NATALIA BAIRES (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale)

As a new tool for measuring psychological flexibility in children and adolescents, the Children's Psychological Flexibility Questionnaire (CPFQ; Dixon & Paliliunas, 2017) constitutes 24 items across the six core clinical processes used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT; Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 2012). Moreover, the CPFQ: Caregiver Report mirrors items from the Child Report, with the exception that it is completed by an adult (e.g., caregiver, provider, educator, etc.) who is familiar with the child or adolescent. In addition to measuring progress and growth over time, the CPFQ is also used in intervention planning to determine which ACT areas to target as part of the Accept. Identify. Move (AIM) curriculum (Dixon & Paliliunas, 2017). Although AIM blends mindfulness, ACT, and applied behavior analysis, it is still in its early introduction and little research has been done assessing the curriculum or its measures. In the current study, the convergent validity of the CPFQ: Child Report and CPFQ: Caregiver Report were compared. Child Reports were completed by individuals 12 years and older who have a diagnosis of autism or a related developmental disability, whereas caregivers or providers completed Caregiver Reports, depending on whether participants were their own legal guardians or not. Preliminary results indicated that at least one item in the present moment, defusion, values, and committed action categories had a strong positive correlation between Client and Caregiver Reports. The findings suggest that scores from the CPFQ: Child Report and Caregiver Report are related and support high validity for the CPFQ.


Effects of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Sessions on Positive Interactions and Staff Rigidity Among Therapists for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

(Service Delivery)
SEBASTIAN GARCIA-ZAMBRANO (Southern Illinois University), Becky Barron (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)

Therapists for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are exposed to high levels of work-related stress that are associated with negative interactions and emotional exhaustion among workers. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been explored as a treatment to decrease levels of perceived work-related stress among direct care staff (Bond and Bunce, 2000; Flaxman and Bond, 2010; Kurz et al., 2014; Veage et al., 2014). However, ACT-based interventions are not improving scores on burnout and it is necessary to develop a better understanding of the specific goals of ACT in work settings. Therefore, the purpose of this presentation is to evaluate the effectiveness of ACT and mindfulness techniques, on improving interactions and intervention techniques towards clients with developmental disabilities. Preliminary results indicated that the percentage of positive interactions and psychological flexibility improved across participants. Our results suggest that using ACT-based exercises may increase psychological flexibility of ABA therapists as well as increase positive interactions among ABA therapists with their clients. Potential implications for organizations who provide ABA services as well as for ABA therapists to improve the psychological well-being and quality of services delivered are discussed.


Ethical Considerations for BCBAs Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in Clinical Practice

VICTORIA DIANE HUTCHINSON (Saint Louis University), Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been researched over 20 years, with overwhelming positive effects. For instance, ACT has been shown to improve job interview skills in adults with disabilities, smoking cessation in typically developing adults, and reduction of off-task related behaviors in school-aged children. Recently, ACT protocols for behavior analytic interventions have begun to emerge, as ACT can easily be utilized to assist BCBAs with identifying and treating experiential avoidance behaviors. While research to date supports ACT as an effective intervention for BCBAs, minimal guidelines exist for ethical considerations for practicing ACT in behavior analytic practice. Therefore, the current presentation will outline the role and importance of behavior analyst’s implementation of ACT, including adhering to an ethical code of conduct. The following strategies will be discussed: practitioner use of ACT consistent vs. inconsistent language; functional vs. non-functional intervention techniques; and ethical considerations throughout implementation.




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