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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #387
Developing a Behavioral Taxonomy for Outpatient Psychological Problems
Monday, May 25, 2009
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
North 224 A
Area: CBM/TPC; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Thomas J. Waltz (University of Nevada, Reno)
Discussant: William C. Follette (University of Nevada Reno)
Abstract: Clinical behavior analysts conceptualize their client’s problems functionally, although they typically work in settings where those problems also need to be evaluated in terms of DSM-IV categories. This session’s speakers will address ways of promoting the behavioral analysis of psychological problems by categorizing them along functional dimensions that can be used to guide treatment. The first presentation focuses on the broad functional assessment of affect, behavior, and cognition and illustrates how “psychological problems” are behavior problems that behavior analysts are well prepared to address. The second presentation focuses on a single functional dimension: the discounting of clinically relevant outcomes. Data will be presented on the clinical utility of using novel discounting tasks to guide therapists’ choice of treatment for college students with interpersonal problems. The last presentation provides an example of a practice friendly assessment instrument for the identification of functional dimensions of depression. Our discussant will focus on the implications of these presentations and the need for clinicians to have a theoretically coherent system for conceptualizing clients’ functioning.
Clinical Behavior Analysis: Behavioral Plans for “Mental Health”
CLAUDIA DROSSEL (University of Nevada, Reno), Thomas J. Waltz (University of Nevada, Reno), William C. Follette (University of Nevada Reno)
Abstract: Clinical case formulations based upon functional assessments of affect, behavior, and cognition suggest particular treatment strategies and predict their effectiveness, yet are not commonly utilized by clinical psychologists or psychiatrists. The authors will provide a comprehensive introduction to a behavior analytic interpretation of clinical presentations traditionally viewed and categorized through a topographical diagnostic lens (such as “depression” or “anxiety”). We will illustrate how a behavior analysis of clinical problems may produce highly usable and practical assessment data directly leading to treatment approaches. We will also discuss practical barriers to implementation. Given the prevalence of dual diagnoses in the field of developmental disabilities, the current paper will promote the development of integrated behavior plans by conceptualizing “mental health” issues from a behavior analytic perspective.
The Relationship Between Discounting Tasks and Poor Interpersonal Functioning
THOMAS J. WALTZ (University of Nevada, Reno), William C. Follette (University of Nevada Reno)
Abstract: Discounting provides a good conceptual framework for understanding many of the psychological problems characterized in the DSM. The present experiment looks at the relationship between poor interpersonal functioning and a variety of discounting tasks. Of particular interest is whether novel discounting tasks that focus on anxiety and poor interpersonal skills can be used to predict and monitor an individual’s response to treatment. The relationship between these novel and previously published measures of discounting will be discussed.
Moving Beyond Measurement of Depressive Symptoms
SABRINA DARROW (University of Nevada, Reno), William C. Follette (University of Nevada Reno)
Abstract: Not only has the series of Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals failed to provide theoretical consistency with regard to etiologies and maintenance of depressive behaviors, but the most widely used measures of depression are also based primarily on symptoms alone. Behavior analysts have long recognized the need to do more than simply identify problematic behaviors if one’s goal is to intervene effectively. As a result, behavior analysis is uniquely situated to develop more sophisticated assessments. Rather than counting symptoms, our goal is to provide assessment with treatment utility and incremental validity of assessment in a theoretically consistent manner. A conceptually rich assessment approach is necessary to support research on the mediators and moderators of treatment. The authors will present a new measure that relates etiological contexts of depressive behavior to possible interventions as well as possible frameworks for empirically testing this type of assessment.



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