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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #109
CE Offered: BACB — 
The Big Picture: An Analysis of Interlocking and Competing Contingencies Affecting Values-Based Practice
Saturday, May 26, 2018
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Seaport Ballroom C
Area: PRA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Amy Nicole Lawless (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Discussant: Janani Vaidya (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
CE Instructor: Jennifer Klapatch Totsch, Ph.D.

In general, the practice of ABA is guided by a complicated array of variables, such alignment with the seven dimensions of ABA (Baer, Wolf, & Risley, 1986), adherence to our Professional and Ethical Compliance Code (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2017), and setting-specific policies and requirements (such as those dictated by agency administrations, funding streams, licensure laws, etc.), just to name a few. Additionally, each practitioner also has specific values that guide their practice. Sometimes, these values may conflict with our ability to practice in such a way that is supported by our environment. In this symposium, the authors will discuss several practice scenarios, highlighting the interlocking and competing contingencies that may put clinician values in conflict with ethical guidelines and practice standards. The symposium will conclude with a discussion of the ?big picture,? and how clinicians can clarify their values in service of practicing in a way that best serves our clients, their community, and our field.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): ethics, interlocking contingencies, practice-based issues, values
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: 1. By the end of this presentation, attendees will be able to identify personal values that guide their practice of ABA. 2. By the end of this presentation, attendees will be able to analyze those values to determine if they align or contradict with ethical and practice guidelines. 3. By the end of this presentation, attendees will be able to identify ways they can practice in service of their values while still abiding by ethical and practice guidelines.
Putting the "Functional" in Skill Building for Restorative Justice Practices
WORNER LELAND (Upswing Advocates), Fawna Stockwell (Upswing Advocates)
Abstract: In interpersonal situations involving serious harm, cultural contingencies often involve solely punitive measures. Punitive measures, including calling law enforcement and utilizing prison systems, often completely discount habilitation and training functional replacement behaviors. These systems typically do not take behavior function into account. Restorative Justice practices can be a meaningful alternative to punitive systems. Restorative Justice “encourages those who have caused harm to acknowledge the impact of what they have done and gives them an opportunity to make reparation. It offers those who have suffered harm the opportunity to have their harm or loss acknowledged and amends made,” (Restorative Justice Consortium 2006). This is achieved through focusing on Victim Healing and Support, Offenders Accepting Responsibility, Dialogue for Perspective Taking, Amends or Reparations, Skill Building to Prevent Future Harm, and Community Reintegration. For skill building to prevent future harm, however, it is important to assess behavior function and to train functional replacement behaviors. This presentation will discuss the potential impact of behavior analytic involvement in Transformative Justice practices, and ethical implications at the cultural and systemic level.

The Application of Transformative Justice-Based Practices in Improving the Social Validity of Behavior Change Interventions

JENNIFER KLAPATCH TOTSCH (National Louis University)

Transformative justice-based practices often focus on examining the impact of an individual's harmful or problematic behaviors on others in their environment. Specifically, the goal of transformative justice-based practices is not only to decrease future instances of that harmful behavior, but also to focus on the healing of persons harmed by those behaviors (i.e., the victims). Behavior analysts are often tasked with working with individuals who emit problematic behaviors that negatively impact others in that client's environment (such as a client aggressing toward their parent). During this presentation, we will discuss the interlocking nature of both our client's harmful behaviors and the behavior of those harmed by the clients (i.e., the victims). We'll then discuss how to design interventions that both effectively and ethically target those problematic behaviors while concurrently focusing on validating the victim's experience and healing the relationships that may have been damaged as a result of the client's problematic behavior.

Considering Client Values in Clinical Decision Making
Abstract: Making decisions that impact service recipients can be challenging, especially in cases which measures to ensure the clients health and safety conflict with the client’s values. Parents and guardians often consult with Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA’s) when making decisions on behalf of clients receiving services. In situations concerning the health and safety of the client, recommended interventions may include restrictions that reduce the risk of harm to the client, but may neglect the values of the client. Individuals with intellectual disabilities may be assumed to be incompetent to make rational decisions and therefore are not included in the planning of and consent for behavior-change programs, despite our ethical obligation to involve clients (Behavior Analysis Certification Board, 2014). This presentation will (a) evaluate practitioner’s role in decision-making and impact on the service recipient, (b) discuss tactics that promote values-based decision making in consideration of the values of the parent or guardian and the service recipient, and (c) examine strategies to ensure values-based decision making in practice.
Organizational Maintenance of Ethical Practice Repertoires
AMY NICOLE LAWLESS (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Abstract: Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA’s) are ethically obligated to rely on scientific knowledge when engaging in professional endeavors and to maintain competence through access with the current research relevant to their clients and attending professional development events, such as conferences and workshops (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2014). Although organizations arrange contingencies to ensure sufficient monthly billable hours and completion of paperwork, many organizations neglect to implement organizational systems that maintain behaviors related to research and professional development. BCBA’s are tasked with maintaining programs for their caseload, training therapists, and working with families of service recipients, in addition to maintaining responsibilities in their personal lives. In the absence of organizational systems that support ongoing professional development, it is less likely BCBA’s are engaging in these behaviors. This presentation will discuss (a) ethical guidelines related to ongoing professional development, (b) contingencies impacting BCBA’s behaviors related to professional development, and (c) organizational systems that may enhance professional development.



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