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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Symposium #183
CE Offered: BACB
Compassionate Care in Behavior Analytic Treatment: Exploring the Social Validity of Component Skills Across Stakeholders
Sunday, May 26, 2024
8:00 AM–8:50 AM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 113 C
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Kristin M. Hustyi (LittleStar ABA)
Discussant: S. Shanun Kunnavatana (Easterseals UCP North Carolina & Virginia)
CE Instructor: Kristin M. Hustyi, M.A.
Abstract: Research in allied professions suggests that specific interpersonal skills (e.g., the display of compassion) may lead to better treatment adherence, patient engagement, satisfaction, and outcomes. Compassion is a construct representing a host of nuanced behavior and contextual responses. Taylor and colleagues (2019) provided an outline of important therapeutic relationship skills that should inform the repertoire of practicing behavior analysts. Specifically, they identified 15 items representing listening and collaboration skills, 21 items representing empathy and compassion, and 11 items representing behaviors that may contribute to problems in the therapeutic relationship with caregivers of patients receiving applied behavior analysis (ABA) treatment. Among these items, the authors identified several items representing potential skill deficits in behavior analysts’ interpersonal skill repertoires. In this symposium, we will present recent research extending the work of Taylor et al. (2019) specifically as it relates to the relative social validity of component skills from the perspectives of practitioners and caregivers.
Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Caregivers, Compassion, Empathy, Training
Target Audience: Behavior analysts within their first 5 years of practice, practitioners, supervisors, and senior leaders
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) provide examples of at least 5 important therapeutic relationship skills; (2) identify at least 2 behaviors that may contribute to problems in the therapeutic relationship according to stakeholders; (3) identify at least 2 skills rated high for social significance (or value) by stakeholders.
What Matters Most to Caregivers? Assessing the Social Validity of Compassionate Care Skills
TABITHA N. HAYS (LittleStar ABA Therapy)
Abstract: Compassionate care in behavior analytic service delivery has emerged as both a priority for the field and an area where clinicians generally require more specific support and development (LeBlanc et al., 2020, Taylor et al., 2019). However, research demonstrating successful acquisition of compassionate care repertoires among behavior analysts is limited. This may be, in part, because compassion encompasses many skills and responses, making it challenging to pinpoint those most critical to target and measure objectively in applied research. However, gathering information about caregivers’ perception of the relative importance of compassionate care behaviors could be used to inform the design or selection of more specific measurement and intervention strategies. The current study replicated and extended the work of Taylor et al., (2019) by asking caregivers to rate their perception of their BCBA’s engagement in items that represented collaboration and compassion in the therapeutic relationship. Additionally, the caregiver was asked rate how important each item was in developing a therapeutic relationship from their perspective. The relationship between engagement and social significance of skills will be discussed, along with recommendations for future applied research.

The Significance of Compassionate Care in in Behavior Analytic Practice: A Survey of Behavior Analysts

NISSA VAN ETTEN (CentralReach ), Chrystal Jansz Rieken (The Chicago School), Annette Griffith (The Chicago School), Robyn Catagnus (National University), Tyra Sellers (Association of Professional Behavior Analysts)

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on the importance of "soft skills" (e.g., relationship building, compassion, listening, empathy, collaboration) within the practice of behavior analysis. However, caregivers of children with autism have reported that behavior analysts do not consistently engage in these skills when working with clients or their families (Taylor et al., 2019). Coupled with the knowledge that behavior analysts do not typically receive direct training in these areas (LeBlanc et al., 2019, Rohrer et al., 2021; Taylor et al., 2019), these findings may indicate the potential for deficits in a number of these essential skills (Taylor et al., 2019). The purpose of this study was to survey behavior analysts to assess their reported engagement in and value of the skills identified by Taylor et al. 2019). Most respondents indicated that all skill areas are significant (i.e., of value) to building rapport with caregivers however their engagement in those skills were inconsistent.




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