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 #67
Applications of Derived Relational Responding
Saturday, May 25, 2024
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 105 AB
Area: VRB/PCH; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Elle Kirsten (Compassionate Behavior Analysis, PLLC)

Relational skills training interventions are increasingly popular among basic and applied relational frame theory (RFT) practitioners. In particular, RFT has shown that arbitrarily derived relational responding (ADRR) is operant behavior and that the operant acquisition of various patterns of relational framing is crucial to cognitive and linguistic development. This symposium will present two applied research and one theoretical paper exploring the applications of RFT: Paper 1 describes a series of ongoing studies aimed at using relational skills training to improve cognitive performance in children, healthy young adults, and older adults with self-reported cognitive complaints. Previous research using such relational skills training has been criticized for the absence of active control conditions, small sample sizes, and lack of preregistration; these studies are aimed at ameliorating these issues and providing the most rigorous test of relational skills training to date. Paper 2 will discuss an RFT-based protocol for training analogical and metaphorical relations to autistic children in order to increase emotion regulation. Paper 3 will also discuss the ramifications of understanding the connections between RFT and ACT in clinical practice.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): ACT, deriving relations, relational skills, RFT

CANCELLED: The Application of Relational Skills Training Across Several Demographics: Preliminary Evidence

JAMIE CUMMINS (University of Bern, Switzerland & Ghent University, Belgium)

Relational skills training interventions are becoming increasingly popular among both basic and applied RFT practitioners. In particular, the SMART protocol (Strengthening Mental Abilities with Relational Training) has emerged as a promising intervention for improving the cognition performance of schoolchildren, and has been speculated to be of use in other populations for similar goals. However, SMART research to date has been limited by small sample sizes, lack of active control conditions, and lack of preregistration. In this talk, I will describe a series of studies that aim to ameliorate these issues, applying SMART in schoolchildren, healthy young adults, and older adults with self-reported cognitive complaints. Whereas typically SMART trains only two relations (’same/opposite’ and ‘more/less than' relations), all studies in this talk use an elaborated protocol which trains five relations (the original two, as well as ‘before/after’, ’same/different’, and ‘contains/is within’). Training for healthy young adults additional employs an ideographic version of SMART which varies the proportion of levels training a particular relation on the basis of baseline relational abilities (i.e., if participants perform worse at ’same/opposite’ than ‘more/less than’, then they receive more training in the former than in the latter). I will describe the progress of these studies to date, as well as the potential implications for SMART in the event of different possible outcomes.

Training Analogical Relations, Metaphor, and Emotion Regulation in Autistic Children
ELLE KIRSTEN (Compassionate Behavior Analysis, PLLC)
Abstract: Analogical (A:B::C:D) relational responding is a critical skill in the development of verbal and intellectual repertoires, and is key to understanding metaphor, an experiential tool often used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to increase emotion regulation. Common pediatric complaints, such as emotion regulation, have been the province of cognitive psychology and have therefore been examined and explained with mentalistic terms. From a contextual behavioral perspective, a fundamental weakness with mentalistic terms is a lack of functional definitions to help identify and explain the core relational component skills necessary for emotion regulation. ACT is a behavioral approach that has shown success in improving youth mental health. However, despite the advantages of ACT and RFT-informed practices, many clinicians and practitioners struggle to understand and/or implement ACT and RFT-based interventions in their work with autistic children. Furthermore, it has been argued that autistic children face significant language comprehension challenges due to their difficulty in understanding figurative language. However, the acquisition of analogical language in autistic children has received little attention. Three autistic children with language delays were trained in analogical and metaphorical relations using an RFT-based protocol. All participants successfully generated analogical relational responses and demonstrated increased emotion regulation.

Implications of Relational Frame Therapy (RFT) on the Clinical Practice of Relational Frame Theory

EVAN MARKS (True North Therapy and Training)

The road to the application of relational frame theory (RFT) to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) can be steep, particularly if you are not coming from a behavioral analytic background. The connections between ACT and RFT are not readily apparent until you are deep into the material, and only then do the true ramifications of RFT begin to shape your practice as an ACT practitioner. In this paper, I will discuss the role of shared attention in developing empathy in the therapeutic relationship; explain the challenges that transitioning between arbitrary and non-arbitrary relations pose to ACT interventions; and, describe the implications of reinforcement density on metaphor development and the construction of ACT interventions. My hope is that I can share some insights from this journey, so that you are either inspired to take the journey yourself or can borrow some of the hard-won insight for the benefit of your clients.




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