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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #74
CE Offered: BACB — 
Adhering to Our Ethical Core Principles for the Promotion of Humanistic Behavior Analytic Treatment
Saturday, May 28, 2022
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Meeting Level 1; Room 156C
Area: PCH; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Marla c Nascimento (Nascimento New Directions Inc.)
Discussant: Candace Barrett (University of Miami)
CE Instructor: Elisa M. Cruz-Torres, Ed.D.
Abstract: Controversial treatments and approaches in the delivery of behavior analytic procedures have caused irreparable harm to the individuals they were intended to help and, subsequently, have created an undesirable reputation for the field of applied behavior analysis. Though there have been many notable advancements in the field of ABA over the past several years, including the introduction of ethics standards to help guide the practice and implementation of ABA-based interventions, there is still much room for improvement. With an update to our ethics code (effective January 2022), it is evident that our field is beginning to embrace and promote more humanistic approaches. This symposium combines two presentations focused on identifying necessary skills and competencies to promote humanistic behavior analytic treatment among behavior analysis practitioners. The first presentation will identify skills aimed at promoting an ethical, compassionate, and culturally competent therapeutic repertoire in ABA practitioners. The second presentation will provide practical guidance for training direct care professionals on implementing humane behavior interventions for individuals who engage in severe maladaptive behaviors. Implications for practice will be discussed.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): compassionate practice, cultural competence, Ethics
Target Audience: Intermediate - This presentation is appropriate for behavior analysts who have a full repertoire of behavior change strategies but may benefit from identifying which strategies provide the most benefit and least risks to their clients. This session is also beneficial for behavior analysts who want to understand how to integrate more humanistic approaches into their practice. Lastly, this may be beneficial for behavior analysts who are in supervisory positions and may be tasked with training and supervising staff with less training (e.g., RBTs, paraprofessionals).
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion this symposium, participants will be able to: 1. Identify interpersonal skills required for the development and maintenance of a therapeutic repertoire comprised of empathy, compassion, and cultural competence. 2. Identify relevant competencies for training direct care staff to provide humane, respectful, and beneficial behavior intervention.

Compassionate Care: Reconnecting to the "Applied" Dimension in Applied Behavior Analysis

ELISA M. CRUZ-TORRES (Florida Atlantic University)

Despite the decades of evidence of the effectiveness of ABA-based procedures for the autism population, critics of ABA continue to express their discontent with our field. From former consumers becoming self-advocates to behavior analysts denouncing the practice of ABA, it is clear that there is some work to do if we want to continue to honor the socially significant dimension of our field and embody the foundational principles of our Ethics Code. This presentation will identify specific interpersonal skills aimed at building a compassionate, empathetic, and culturally competent therapeutic repertoire that can help practitioners build capacity in establishing trust and rapport and promote a collaborative and compassionate therapist-client relationship.

Identifying Competencies for Training Direct Care Staff to Implement Humane, Respectful, and Beneficial Behavior Interventions
Abstract: Behavior analysts working in educational and community settings are often tasked with training and supervising direct care staff (e.g., paraprofessionals, behavior technicians) who work directly with individuals who may engage in moderate to severe maladaptive behaviors. Since behavior analysts are not always available to respond to behavioral incidents that occur, they must rely on these direct care staff to carry out behavioral interventions effectively, while maintaining the safety of the clients and those in close proximity. In addition, behavior analysts have an ethical obligation to ensure that their clients are treated with dignity and respect, and receive treatment that is beneficial and minimizes risk, regardless of the behavioral situations that may arise. Repeated exposure to high stress behavioral situations may weaken direct care staff’s efficacy, resulting in drift, and possibly increasing the likelihood that less humane behavioral interventions may be implemented (e.g., use of physical restraints). This presentation will identify relevant competencies for training direct care staff to provide humane, respectful, and beneficial behavior intervention.



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