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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Symposium #351
CE Offered: BACB
Evidence-based Practice: How Applied Behavior Analysis Found Its Heart and Ethics
Monday, May 25, 2015
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
213AB (CC)
Area: PRA/TPC; Domain: Theory
Chair: Trina Spencer (Northern Arizona University)
Discussant: Keith D. Allen (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
CE Instructor: Trina Spencer, Ph.D.
Abstract: Within an Evidence-based Practice (EBP) framework, client values, preferences, and context complement best available evidence and clinical expertise to help inform clinical decisions. Although they traditionally have been essential variables for ensuring socially valid behavior analytic services, client values, preferences, and context deserve more explicit attention in behavior analytic training and journals. As professional and ethical challenges proliferate, behavior analysts need guidance about how to judge the relevance of variables, balance conflicting perspectives, and be guided by empirical evidence while practicing within the boundaries of responsible conduct. In this symposium, the presenters will explore these boundaries through an ethical lens and offer practical recommendations for using an EBP decision-making framework when training graduate students in ABA and to guide behavior analysts’ actions when confronted with ethical challenges. Recommendations will also include ways in which to integrate client values, preferences, and context in the decision making process so that benefits to clients can be maximized and collaborative working relationships can be maintained.
Keyword(s): Client Values, Contextual Fit, Ethics, Evidence-based Practice
Client Values, Preferences, and Context: More Than Just a Question on the BCBA Exam
SUSAN WILCZYNSKI (Ball State University)
Abstract: Graduate students who study Applied Behavior Analysis are very familiar with the BACB 4th edition task list and can tell you that resources constraint should influence treatment recommendations. Is this all they should know about client values, preferences, and context? In 2014, Slocum and colleagues defined the evidence-based practice of applied behavior analysis as including not only the best available evidence, but also clinical expertise and the values and preferences of clients. This presentation outlines the importance of client values, preferences, and contextual fit. Client values and preferences extend beyond the parameters of a preference assessment because it can influence treatment integrity and acceptability. Contextual fit can impact not only the adoption of treatments but also the long-term sustainability of treatment implementation. Client values, preference, and context have direct bearing on the quality of services we offer and the degree to which we will meet our goal of producing socially meaningful improvements in the lives of those we serve. This presentation will show practitioners how to use a decision-making framework to better consider client values, preferences, and context. It will also identify variables supervisors must consider when mentoring the next generation of behavior analysts.
Social Validity, Cultural Reciprocity, and Ethics: Collaboration with Clients and Professionals
TRINA SPENCER (Northern Arizona University)
Abstract: Integrating client values, preferences, and context is a critical component of evidence-based behavior analytic practice. Without considering variables such as client or family’s goals, capacity, and preference for recommendations, social validity may suffer. If the relevant characteristics and preferences of all the individuals involved are not respectfully considered in the decision-making process, critical outcomes may be compromised and ethical challenges may arise. An approach, called posture of cultural reciprocity combined with an evidence-based practice (EBP) framework, offers strategies to promote collaboration among behavior analysts, clients, families and professionals when perspectives and values conflict. The steps of cultural reciprocity can help professionals critically examine their own biases and assumptions while sincerely seeking understanding of others’ perspective and values. Through a conceptual analysis of the role of client values and preferences, the presenter will offer recommendations for navigating collaborations and ethnical challenges using the steps of cultural reciprocity embedded in an EBP decision making process.



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