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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Panel #295
Towards Developing ABA Soft Skills: Opening the Gate to More Effective Parent Collaboration
Monday, May 25, 2015
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Grand Ballroom C1 (CC)
Area: AUT/PRA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Linda S. Heitzman-Powell (The University of Kansas Medical Center)
LISA K. DWORKIN (Autism Home Support Services)
LAURA MCKEE (Autism Home Support)
MARYANNE NUGENT (Autism Home Support Services)
Abstract: Soft skills are personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. Examples include communication styles, effective problem-solving, active listening, diplomacy, and collaboration skills. Beyond technical abilities, soft skills are imperative as BCBAs initiate, develop, and sustain relationships with clients and families. Going a step further, it is not enough to identify and design effective and sustainable interventions; rather, clinical effectiveness also hinges on the ability of the BCBA to master more traditional psychology domains (e.g., active listening, establishing a therapeutic relationship, and promoting parent acceptability/treatment adherence; Heitzman-Powell, White, & Perrin, 2007). To date, it is largely unknown to what extent these critical areas are addressed in pre-service training of practitioners in the field of ABA (Kelly & Tincani, 2013; Heitzman-Powell et al., 2007). Soft skills, like technical skills, can be introduced, acquired, and shaped in our professional repertoires. Because of the necessity of these skills, in-service training may be an effective method to develop this repertoire of skills in the growing ABA community. Longitudinal data were collected on gains in BCBAs background information (e.g., years of experience), knowledge, attitudes, and potential behavior change, as a result of these initiatives. Specifically, 76% of BCBAs surveyed (n = 79) responded that the in-service training presentations were ‘very much’ or ‘quite a bit’ relevant to their work as a BCBA. Additionally, 68% of BCBAs surveyed feel ‘quite a bit’ or very much’ more prepared to provide services to children and families following the presentation. The panel will discuss the systematic and organizational efforts a large in-home ABA provider made to establish, implement, and teach soft skills. The panel discussion will bring key stakeholders together; panelists will include the CEO, Director of Clinical Services, and a parent of a child with autism. Participants will have the opportunity to dialogue with the panelists. Future directions and recommendations for research and practice at the organizational, professional, and individual level will be discussed.
Keyword(s): professional development



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