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 #107
CE Offered: BACB
Improving Psychological Well-Being With BST and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Sunday, May 29, 2016
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Columbus Hall AB, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: PRA/VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jamie DeVillez (St. Louis University)
Discussant: Kara Reagon (Autism Speaks)
CE Instructor: Kail H. Seymour, M.S.

The topography of maladaptive behavior provides minimal information in terms of developing treatment strategies for reducing its occurrence, rather an analysis of the function of behavior both adaptive and maladaptive has repeatedly shown effectiveness across populations and behaviors. Contemporary treatment strategies for individuals with developed language and cognitive abilities have focused on verbal behavioral interventions that are function-based and teach the necessary skills for children and adults to progress towards their values. The current set of studies show how two pervasive contemporary treatment approaches, behavioral skills training (BST) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), can be utilized with both clinical and non-clinical populations to decrease various topographies of maladaptive behavior, increase psychological flexibility as an alternative operant, and help participants move towards a valued life. Three of the studies detail the use of these approaches in large scale application in school settings, and the other provides a metric for on-going evaluation of psychological flexibility as a generalized operant.

Keyword(s): ACT, BST, Psychological Flexibility

Using Behavioral Skills Training Paired With Observational Learning to Decrease Peer-to-Peer Aggression

TRACY CRYSTAL LEMLER (St. Louis University), Thea Ervin (St. Louis University), Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University)

Behavioral Skills Training (BST) has been used as an antecedent intervention to teach a range of skills, however little is known about the effects of BST paired with observational learning. Therefore, the current study used a concurrent multiple baseline design across classrooms to evaluate the effects of BST paired with observational learning on responses to aggression. Four students with emotional and behavioral disorders (age range = 8-18) were randomly selected as models (n=2) and classmates (n=2) across two classrooms. Classroom observations were conducted on the percent of intervals the selected students engaged in classroom aggression using a 5-s momentary- time sampling procedure. Before BST, selected students completed a verbal assessment, consisting of forced choice and open ended WH questions related to peer aggression. During training, the model was trained to ignore, walk away, and/or engage in a calming strategy when peers engage in aggression. BST sessions took place in front of the models classmates. Following BST, students completed the verbal assessment and classroom observations were conducted. Results identified increases in appropriate responding to peer aggression, and decreases in engagement in aggression. These results support the clinical utility of observational learning in groups, to assist with training appropriate classroom behavior.

Clinical Utility of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in Urban Elementary Schools
HEATHER LYNN LEWIS (Saint Louis University), Sean Saito (St. Louis University), Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University)
Abstract: Many children attending urban schools with high poverty rates present with significant behavioral challenges that interrupt learning for both themselves and others. Studies show that students in impoverished urban schools experience a range of environmental variables that impact learning and graduation rates, in addition to higher rates of mental health disorders, including emotional dysregulation, substance abuse, depression, and anxiety than matched peers. Nationwide, urban city schools are twice as likely to have inexperienced teachers and a high-turnover rate, further contributing to student performance deficits. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been shown to be an effective treatment options for a range of clinically significant behaviors across the lifespan, and research is beginning to emerge on applying ACT in schools, particularly for children with emotional and behavioral disorders. However, minimal focus has been paid to implementing ACT with both students and their teachers in impoverished urban schools. Given the minimal literature on the topic, there appears to be a need for clearly identifying empirically based strategies for successful implementation of ACT in urban settings. Therefore, the current presentation will showcase empirically-based strategies for infusing ACT into urban city schools, for both teachers and students with emotional behavioral disorders.
Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Protocols in the School Setting
DANA PALILIUNAS (Southern Illinois University), Ryan C. Speelman (Southern Illinois University), Kelly Neville (Indiana University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Students with and without disabilities often exhibit behaviors in school that have a negative impact on their academic performance as well as their social interactions. Intervention protocols that can be utilized by school faculty to address these behaviors at an individual, group, and school-wide level are needed for these students who have more advanced language capabilities. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which has demonstrated effectiveness in treating children with a variety of challenges, may have utility in the school setting. One protocol, ACT for Children with Autism and Emotional Challenges (Dixon 2014), has been developed to provide professionals with daily lessons that teach the components of ACT through exercises appropriate for children from kindergarten through high school. A series of studies have evaluated the use of this ACT protocol in the school setting with students who have a variety of needs and its effect on school-specific measures such as classroom behavior, attention, attendance, and grades, among others. The implications of these studies as well as avenues for future research are discussed.
WHA? Creating a Brief, Clinical Measure for Psychological Flexibility: The Weekly Hexaflex Assessment
KAIL H. SEYMOUR (Southern Illinois University), Travis Sain (Southern Illinois University Carbondale), Sunni Primeaux (Southern Illinois University Carbondale), Chad Drake (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) emphasizes functional assessment in a talk-therapy setting. In brief, ACT attempts to (a) identify inflexible behavioral repertoires that cause suffering and (b) establish/enhance more flexible responding (psychological flexibility) in service of creating a vital life. To accomplish this, ACT focuses on six behavioral repertoires (i.e., present-moment awareness, acceptance, defusion, self-as-context, committed action, and values construction) collectively referred to as the hexaflex. Multiple self-report hexaflex measures currently exist. For example, the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II (AAQ-II) assesses psychological flexibility as a whole, whereas other measures assess individual hexaflex repertoires (e.g., the Cognitive Fusion Questionnaire). However, no singular, well-known, psychometrically-valid measure that quickly assesses all six individual repertoires appears to exist. Such a measure could potentially identify clinical strengths/deficits, which would help therapists focus attention where it is most needed during clinical sessions. In an attempt to fill this gap, the Weekly Hexaflex Assessment (WHA) was generated. Its creation, including the initial assessment of its psychometrics and comparison of the WHA with various other measures (e.g., personality, specific hexaflex measures, the AAQ-II, etc.), will represent the primary focus of this talk.



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