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.


Second Annual Autism Conference; Atlanta, GA; 2008

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #9
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

"Evidence-Based Practice: Improvement or Illusion?

Saturday, February 9, 2008
5:00 PM–6:00 PM
Regency Ballroom
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Gina Green, Ph.D.
GINA GREEN (San Diego State University)
Dr. Gina Green received a Ph.D. in Psychology (Analysis of Behavior) from Utah State University in 1986, following undergraduate and master’s degree studies at Michigan State University. She has been a faculty member in Behavior Analysis and Therapy at Southern Illinois University; Director of Research at the New England Center for Children in Southborough, Massachusetts; Associate Scientist at the E.K. Shriver Center for Mental Retardation in Waltham, Massachusetts; and Research Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Green is currently in private practice in San Diego as a consultant and is on the faculty at San Diego State University and the University of North Texas. She has authored numerous publications on the treatment of individuals with developmental disabilities and brain injuries, as well as the experimental analysis of behavior. Dr. Green co-edited the books Behavioral Intervention for Young Children with Autism and Making a Difference: Behavioral Intervention for Autism. She serves or has served on the editorial boards of several professional journals in developmental disabilities and behavior analysis. Dr. Green also serves on the Board of Trustees and the Autism Advisory Group of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, the Board of Directors of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, and the advisory boards of several autism programs and organizations. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, former president of the Association for Behavior Analysis and the California Association for Behavior Analysis, and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Council for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health. Psychology Today named her “Mental Health Professional of the Year” in 2000. In 2005 she received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from The Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland for her work in autism. Dr. Green lectures and consults widely on autism and related disorders, behavioral research, and effective interventions for people with disabilities.

Evidence-based practice has become a popular buzz-phrase recently. Several groups have developed autism practice guidelines that are described as evidence-based, and that phrase is being used to market many interventions. Some laws and policies even mandate that practices be evidence-based. This would seem to be a good thing for behavior analysts and consumers of ABA services. But is it? Although evidence-based practice originally referred to practices that have proved effective in scientific studies, developers of some autism practice guidelines have defined evidence to include information that is not scientific at all. A number of others have defined science in a way that excluded most behavior analytic research. And some interventions that are being promoted as evidence-based have not been tested directly in anything resembling scientific studies. In light of these multiple, confusing usages, how are parents and practitioners to know whether they can have confidence in recommendations that are said to be evidence-based? Which of the many autism practice guidelines are grounded in real science? Why has the science of behavior analysis been ignored by so many guidelines developers, and what can be done about that? What is the best available scientific evidence about various interventions for autism? This presentation offers some answers to these questions, and some suggestions for using genuine scientific evidence to improve the practice of behavior analysis.

Target Audience:

Licensed Psychologists and/or Certified Behavior Analysts

Learning Objectives: N/a



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