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.

14th Annual Autism Conference; Miami, FL; 2020

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #9

Fear and Flexibility: Shaping Bravery in Children and Adolescents

Monday, February 24, 2020
1:50 PM–2:40 PM
Regency Ballroom
Area: AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Lisa Coyne, Ph.D.
Chair: Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids)
LISA COYNE (Harvard Medical School; Suffolk University; McLean Hospital)

Dr. Coyne is the Founder and Senior Clinical Consultant of the McLean OCD Institute for Children and Adolescents at McLean Hospital, and is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School. She is the Founder and Director of the New England Center for OCD and Anxiety (NECOA), and is on the Faculty of the Behavior Therapy Training Institute (BTTI) of the International OCD Foundation.  She is also a licensed psychologist and a peer-reviewed ACT trainer. She has authored multiple articles and chapters on ACT with children and adolescents, and is a co-author of the books Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: The Clinician’s Guide for Supporting Parents (Elsevier), and The Joy of Parenting (New Harbinger).  Her new books, The ACT Guide to Teen Anxiety and OCD, Guilford Press, and Stuff That’s Loud: A Teen’s Guide to Unspiralling When OCD Gets Noisy (New Harbinger & Little Brown), are expected in 2020.


Contemporary approaches to anxiety and fear in children and adolescents employ exposure-based treatments and experiential learning. New research on how exposure works has suggested specific guidelines we can use to enhance these approaches. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a behavioral evidence-based intervention that can be used to support inhibitory learning in exposure-based treatment. Thus, this talk will discuss how applied behavior analysts may incorporate ACT into exposure-based treatment; namely, through shaping curiosity, willingness, and flexibility in the presence of fear and anxiety. Specifically, the speaker will discuss data on inhibitory learning processes in exposure, and how to incorporate specific ACT interventions into exposure to strengthen and contextualize this type of learning.

Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) explain fear, anxiety, and exposure-based treatment in behavioral terms, including inhibitory learning processes; (2) describe the ACT model, in particular, the mindfulness and acceptance processes and the commitment and behavior change processes; (3) discuss applications of exposure-based treatment that incorporates ACT to enhance inhibitory learning through supporting curiosity, willingness, and flexibility.



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