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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #340
CE Offered: BACB
But is it Behavior Analytic?
Sunday, May 24, 2020
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 1, Salon A
Area: CBM/PCH; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Denise B. Malone (State of VA Department of Corrections)
CE Instructor: Theodore A. Hoch, Ed.D.

Behavior analysis is a natural science that considers operant and respondent behavior, and their interplay and the environmental contingencies of which they are a part, as worthy of study in their own right. A good number of these behaviors are overt, and many are covert. In recent years, applied behavior analysis seems to have moved away from such a conceptualization, and instead to have focused on overt behaviors, neglecting the importance of respondent behavior and covert verbal and perceptual behavior in the lives of service recipients. This symposium examines procedures that should be within the purview of applied behavior analysts, but which some might consider out of bounds. Mindfulness, breath awareness, and hypnosis are discussed in terms of operant and respondent contingencies, self-management, and verbal mediation. Their place in the toolbox of behavior analysts is considered.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): operant behavior, self-management, verbal behavior, verbal mediation
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts, psychologists, counselors, and other mental health practitioners


CANCELED: Breath Awareness: A Mobile Meditation App That May Be Used to Manage Stress Anywhere, Anytime, and Unobtrusively

ROBERT STROMER (George Brown College)

Practiced regularly, mindfulness meditation helps us manage the multitude of stressors faced in everyday life. A working knowledge of the fact that, “if you can breathe, you can meditate,” is key to mindful self-care. The challenge, however, is to get people to actually do it. Workshops alone – even those of the skills-training variety – seldom change everyday behavior. Follow-up contingencies for newly acquired mindfulness skills do not compete well with those maintaining existing and unsatisfying ways of dealing with stress. We are exploring, therefore, a program that focuses on learning to use mindful breath meditations throughout the day. Under naturally arising circumstances, use of a minute (or less) of focused breathing is pivotal to our five-day Implementation Challenge. The Challenge begins with an individualized discussion of values, aims, and contract particulars. We highlight use of a detailed practice journal and a system of daily memoranda between coach and attendee. Things end with a debriefing about lessons learned and future directions. So far, several experienced meditators tried and endorsed the Challenge; this includes my ongoing self-experimentation (11 weeks – 20 meditations per day) that informs protocol development and expansion. Optimistically, we await a colleague’s evaluation with a cohort of newcomers to meditation.

Mindfulness, Private Events, and Verbal Behavior
Abstract: The use of mindfulness techniques has been shown to have many benefits from health to emotional wellbeing. The traditional way of explaining mindfulness has been to appeal to an inner agent. A behavior analytic account can improve our understanding, training, and development of mindfulness behaviors. This paper is a step toward defining mindful awareness with a behavior analytic approach. Skinner’s account of private events and verbal behavior is necessary and sufficient for the description and study of mindful awareness. In contrast to traditional views that attempt to account for mindful awareness through an inner agent, behavioral mindfulness explores mindful awareness as stimulus control over observational responses of the interactions between behaviors and their environment. One’s own verbal behavior can become part of the environmental controls over these observational responses. A program of verbal interventions is thus needed to develop greater degrees of mindful awareness. Strategies for developing mindful awareness including verbal responding, meditation, and brief daily practice sessions are discussed. Research from a behavior analytic view can improve the usefulness of mindfulness strategies. Developing behavioral protocols for studying mindful awareness can lead to improved practices for achieving life satisfaction and for the treatment of emotional difficulties.
Hypnosis? But is it Behavior Analytic?
THEODORE A. HOCH (George Mason University)
Abstract: Hypnosis has been portrayed for decades in popular media as a mysterious procedure by which a therapist enters and implants seeds of potential behavior into the psyche of a participant. Alternatively, one might consider hypnosis as a manner of helping a participant (or oneself) to arrange for specific stimulus controls on particular features of one's current situation, thereby enhancing the stimulus controls and potentially instructional control aspects of those features. This presentation discusses similarities between hypnosis and counterconditioning, relaxation training, prolonged exposure therapy, features of acceptance and commitment therapy, and mindfulness; and suggests that, in some circumstances, there may be a place for this procedure in a behavior analyst's armamentarium.



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