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.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

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Symposium #441
CE Offered: BACB
Building Rapport From a Behavior Analytic Perspective
Monday, May 31, 2021
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Sarah Conklin (California State University, Los Angeles)
Discussant: Lusineh Gharapetian (Pepperdine University)
CE Instructor: Sarah Conklin, M.S.

Building rapport both with clients and caregivers is cogent to effective service delivery in applied behavior analysis. Although most would identify that building rapport is important, what rapport is and how it is established has not received a lot of focus in behavior analytic training. The purpose of this symposium is to provide a conceptual analysis of specific active listening skills that when applied help build rapport with both clients and caregivers. More specifically, a model based upon Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior that demonstrates the use of active listening skills in building rapport will be provided. For some clients, there are pre-requisites that must be systematically addressed prior to being able to build rapport. One such study will be presented where in escape extinction and desensitization was utilized prior to building rapport with a client. Finally, our discussant will provide insightful comments related to building rapport from a behavior analytic perspective and comment on the two aforementioned papers.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): building rapport, desensitization, verbal behavior
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1) Discuss Skinner's verbal operants as they pertain to building rapport utilizing active listening skills 2) Discuss the importance of rapport building from a behavior analytic perspective 3) Discuss how to utilize escape extinction and desensitization prior to developing rapport with clients
Implications of Counseling Skills in the Practice of Applied Behavior Analysis
SARAH CONKLIN (California State University, Los Angeles), Lusineh Gharapetian (Pepperdine University), Michele D. Wallace (California State University, Los Angeles)
Abstract: Building and maintaining rapport throughout service delivery is vital to the client and consultant relationship. However, most behavior analysts are not trained in specific skills geared towards doing this. An active listening model utilizing both verbal and non-verbal behavior is outlined; comprising of encouragers, paraphrasing, and summarizing. Specifically, a model is presented on how to incorporate these active listening skills in the practice of service delivery. Moreover, special emphasis on using the model in a telehealth service delivery modality is discussed. In addition, a conceptual analysis of the active listening skills based upon Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior is provided. Finally, cultural implications are discussed, as well as, avenues for future research.

Becoming the Piano: Escape Extinction and Desensitization Before Building Rapport

(Applied Research)
DAVID LEGASPI (Center For Applied Behavior Analysis), Jesslyn N. Farros (Center for Applied Behavior Analysis (CABA)), Patricia Fonseca (Center for Applied Behavior Analysis), Rachel Taylor (Center for Applied Behavior Analysis ), Michele D. Wallace (California State University, Los Angeles and Center for Applied Behavior Analysis)

Individuals diagnosed with autism may engage in severe target behavior to gain access to a form of escape (Harper, Iwata, & Camp 2013). Often, building rapport with these individuals may include an initial phase of desensitization to the clinical team before building in other programming (Szalwinski, Thomason-Sassi, Moore, & McConnell, 2019). The following experiment included four phases that ultimately resulted in increased exposure to a clinical team for an adult diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This method included 4 steps, increasing the time at which a clinical team member observed the individual, decreasing break time in between observation periods, increasing observation interval from 5 to 40 minutes, and closing the proximity between a clinical member and individual. Data collected was collected across observation periods and followed a changing criterion design per each phase. Data suggests that as exposure increased, target behavior decelerated across method parameters thus far. The following paper’s purpose was to test a four-phase method of introducing escaped extinction and desensitization before building rapport. The results and potential impact will be discussed.




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