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 #472
CE Offered: BACB
Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACTr)and Mindfulness to Support Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Practitioners
Monday, May 27, 2024
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Marriott Downtown, Level 4, Franklin Hall 9-10
Area: CBM/VRB; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Bentley Elliott (Missouri State University)
CE Instructor: Thomas G. Szabo, Ph.D.

A growing literature is supporting ACTraining (ACTr; Tarbox et al., 2020) conducted by behavior analysts, including its use in training and resourcing ABA practitioners. Beyond addressing immediate organizational contingencies, ACTr attempts to promote psychological flexibility behavioral processes of practitioners to improve public and private experiences. Presenters will discuss experimental research supporting diverse applications of ACTr and Mindfulness with service providers at multiple levels. The first presentation will discuss a virtual peer-group that was successful in increasing self-reported confidence and competence of participants with demonstrable improvements in implementation observed throughout the intervention. The second presentation expands on the first by emphasizing mindfulness as a behavioral process influencing private events of behavior technicians implementing ABA programming. Finally, the third presentation discusses the use of ACTraining to support BCBAs with the potential to improve assessment and intervention outcomes for learners receiving services. Taken together, these studies show how ACTr can be integrated as a flexible approach across multiple service and organizational levels.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Practicing Behavior Analysts and RBTs

Learning Objectives: 1. Describe ACTraining as a behavior approach to promoting psychological flexibility 2. Discuss the role of ACTraining applied with behavioral practitioners at multiple levels 3. Describe the influence of ACTraining on overt and covert behavioral processes

Confidently Competent: Increasing Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACTr) Skills in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

ERIN ELIZABETH BERTOLI (Mindful ACTion), Meredith Jane Rush-Inglis (Member of Ontario ABA (ONTABA)), Jordan Belisle (Missouri State University), Summer Maria Mingo (SGBehavior Associates)

"Despite the thousands of studies that empirically support the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), little research has been done on methods for training and developing competency amongst behavior analysts. Brock and colleagues in their 2015 paper “Recognizing common clinical mistakes in ACT: A quick analysis and call to awareness,” discuss the difficulties in transferring knowledge of ACT gained in training to real-world clinical settings. The purpose of this study is to investigate the use of a BCBA peer group to increase confidence and competence in the implementation of ACT skills. The study utilized a single subject design embedded within a Multiple Baseline Across Participants. Each participant entered the study after receiving a 6-week intensive practicum on ACT within ABA. Baseline data were collected on the participants general knowledge of ACT principles and procedures, along with their overall competence and confidence in implementing ACT in their clinical practice (Broadhead, et al, 2018). The participants then participated in a 6-week peer group, held virtually, for 1.5 hours per week. The meetings included a combination of didactic and experiential training including a mindfulness exercise, a brief overview of targeted ACT principles, a group shared Matrix, and case conceptualization with role play and feedback. During the case presentation, the participants were encouraged to privately functionally assess the clients verbal behavior, and then each participant was given the opportunity to implement an ACT intervention with the client. Feedback was provided along with follow up resources. Throughout the study, the participants continued to collect their self report data on their competence and confidence, and then completed the knowledge assessment again upon completion of the group. The addition of the peer group was found to be effective in increasing 60% of the participants overall knowledge of principles and implementation of procedures, and 100% of the participants confidence and overall competence from baseline. "


How Can We Measure Present Thoughts: Utilizing Mindfulness With Behavior Technicians

AUTUMN N. MCKEEL (Emergent Learning Clinic), Jesse Lee Sears (Emergent Learning Center), Claire Stromley (Emergent Learning Center)

Organizational behavior management can be used in combination with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to improve employee psychological flexibility and give them tools to deal with workplace stress (Bond, et al., 2006). ? There has been limited research on decreasing the turnover rate of behavior technicians in ABA clinics and while mindfulness techniques have become more popular, behavior analysts have yet to find a way to operationalize how it is effective in changing behaviors. The purpose of the current study is to operationalize present moment thoughts and to increasestaff engagement following being taught a mindfulness exercise. Researchers were able to code and identify present moment thoughts via a talk aloud procedure, while technicians increased their report of these following the exercise. To extend this study, investigators identified direct behaviors to target for increase following the mindfulness exercise: eye contact, proximity to client, and vocal engagement. Results showed effective change in indirect and direct behaviors.


Teaching Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts(BCaBAs) to Implement Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACTr) With Fidelity

THOMAS G. SZABO (Capella University), Karen Nohelty (360 Behavioral Health), Rachael Robinson (Center for Autism), Lea Courtney June (Behavior Analysis Center for Autism)

Teaching professionals to use ACTr with ABA clients or caregivers whose behavior is resistant to treatment may help improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and social validity of ABA services. Although studies have shown that interventionists engage with clients more frequently and with greater empathy after exposure to ACTr, training practitioners to use ACTr to help others is relatively unexplored in the literature. Such instruction can be difficult because the practitioner must be taught to discriminate between six inflexible repertoires that could be interfering with direct contingency management and to address the most important of these in client-specific ACTr interventions. Such customization is important because the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s 5th Edition Task List for Behavior Analysts specifies that ABA practitioners are to individualize treatments for the needs of their unique clients. Additionally, clients in ABA settings often have developmental or intellectual limits that require exposure to frequent, varied exercises. Accordingly, the development of mediator skills for individualizing ACTr treatments that are specific to the needs of individuals is an important next step. The purpose of the current study is to assess the effectiveness of training procedures in ACTr assessment and intervention.




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