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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #224
CE Offered: BACB
ABA Revisited: A Paradigm Shift for Understandingand Treating Psychopathology, Trauma, Anxiety, and Medical Issues
Monday, May 30, 2016
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Crystal Ballroom C, Hyatt Regency, Green West
Area: CBM/EDC; Domain: Translational
Chair: Jeannie A. Golden (East Carolina University)
Discussant: Anibal Gutierrez Jr. (Florida International University)
CE Instructor: Jeannie A. Golden, Ph.D.

Typically, applied behavior analysis has focused on individuals with developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders. Often behavior analysts shy away from addressing areas such as psychopathology, trauma, anxiety and emotional aspects (e.g. depression) of medical issues. These diagnoses and their symptoms involve private events and are therefore difficult to operationally define, observe and measure. However, Friman and others have suggested that behavior analysts should not ignore these important areas because they will then be studied only by non-behaviorists. Unfortunately, non-behaviorists view aberrant behaviors in individuals with psychiatric disorders as symptoms of underlying constructs and use the diagnosis as a reason for these behaviors, proposing more global treatments such as therapies or medications. On the other hand, behaviorists view those behaviors as serving an environmental function that can be replaced with a more acceptable behavior serving the same function. The behavioral perspective would also include an analysis/understanding of establishing operations in the form of private events, physical sensations, bio-behavioral states, psychological feelings, and covert tacts/mands and learning history with particular discriminative stimuli for reinforcement or punishment. The presenters in this symposium will present their analyses of these areas from a behavioral perspective and provide treatment strategies or research methodologies that are based on these analyses.

Behavior Analysis and the Psychopath: Methodology for Investigating Behavioral Analogues of Traditional Psychoanalytic Conceptualizations
ANDRE V. MAHARAJ (Florida International University)
Abstract: While paradigm shifts have informed largely all areas of psychology, some spheres of research are still dominated by the perspectives of the schools within which they germinated. The presentation and analysis of psychopathy has long been the domain of psychoanalysis, and the trend of psychoanalytic interpretation exists even today, despite the incorporation of methodologies from other fields such as cognitivism and neuroscience. The diagnostic literature delineates Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) as the adult representation of psychopathy, but many argue that there exists a qualitative distinction between the DSM-V conceptualization and the actual behavioral presentation of psychopaths. We propose that the behavior analytic framework offers a viable means for investigating corresponding analogues to dominant psychoanalytic and cognitive constructs used in the classification of psychopathy. Further, contributions at this level of analysis may aid in the reliable identification of traits, and increase the variance accounted for by established independent variables for predictive analysis.
Treating Children With Trauma and Attachment Difficulties: Redefining Trauma-Based Therapy in Behavioral Terms
JEANNIE A. GOLDEN (East Carolina University)
Abstract: Many children who experienced early abuse/neglect, multiple placements and multiple caregivers have experienced trauma and attachment issues. The impact that this may have on the child’s behavior is likely to cause continued problems for the child and those providing care and treatment. Inappropriate behaviors may be related to learning histories and contingencies that are not observable in the immediate environment. Feelings may be establishing operations for the salience of particular reinforcers and punishers. Certain adult and peer behaviors may be discriminative stimuli for particular reinforcers and punishers in children’s learning histories. Negative peer models and naïve adults may provide inadvertent reinforcement for inappropriate behaviors such as lying, stealing and cheating. The presenter will discuss the impact that this learning history has the effectiveness of behavioral treatments as well as generalization of treatment effects. Alternate treatment approaches, such as trauma-based therapy, which are more likely to promote change that will generalize to the natural environment, will be presented in a behavioral framework.
Using FBAs to Select Coping and Self-Management Skills for Youth Exhibiting Anxiety-Related Behaviors
JESSE (WOODY) W. JOHNSON (Northern Illinois University)
Abstract: Instruction in coping and self-management strategies have been demonstrated as effective interventions for children and youth with anxiety disorders (Oswald, 2008). Coping strategies include: problem solving, self-instruction, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation. An emerging body of research is demonstrating that the effectiveness of coping and self-management skills can be further enhanced by the use of functional behavior assessment. These strategies can serve as replacement behaviors in the presence of stressful situations (Kendall, 2010). Often, adolescents who are experiencing anxiety in school may exhibit noncompliant, oppositional, and even disruptive behavior. The presenter has worked with adolescents who exhibit anxiety-related behaviors in a school setting that have created problems for these students. The purpose of this presentation is to a) summarize recent research on developing function-based self-management skills, b) outline a series of steps for practitioners to use when developing function-based self-management programs, and c) demonstrate the process through case study examples.

Dealing With Medical Issues in Adolescence: Ensuing Anxious, Depressed, and Helpless Behaviors

JEANNIE A. GOLDEN (East Carolina University), Katy Scott (East Carolina University)

Coping with medical diagnoses such as diabetes and asthma is particularly difficult during adolescence. Living in a rural community that is lacking in resources can make these diagnoses even more difficult, leading to behaviors that present as anxiety, depression and helplessness. Understanding how these behaviors can serve as establishing operations and have functions in the form of direct escape or socially mediated access is helpful in developing interventions that promote more positive behaviors such as treatment adherence, seeking support, and coping effectively. The presenter works with adolescents who are being treated at a school-based health clinic which serves high school students in a rural, impoverished area, some of whom are in families of migrant workers. The presenter will describe how to conduct a functional assessment and analysis of motivating operations in the treatment of behaviors related to medical disorders, using case examples of two adolescents who have been diagnosed with diabetes and asthma.




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Modifed by Eddie Soh