Is Applied Behavior Analysis More Effective Than Other Therapies?

Individuals who are pursuing an educational path that relates to therapy or those exploring their options may wonder if applied behavior analysis is more effective than other treatments. The answer is complicated, but generally speaking, there are several attributes of this approach that render it more useful for certain groups of people. The article below explores what the therapy entails and why those features make it impactful.

Related resource: Top 15 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Online Programs

What Is ABA?

Applied behavior analysis is a technique that relies on consistent practice of behaviors and social skills to address difficulties with interaction or belief. Its benefit rests in the context of the method, building on real-life scenarios to reinforce actions and reactions.

Therapists often explore this approach to help clients better understand how behavior works within social scenarios. Researchers utilize the theoretical framework to examine how learning happens within the brain and the human landscape. They also continuously refine their understandings of how interaction impacts the use and development of social skills.

It can be applied to heighten language and communication skills. Additionally, therapists can utilize this framework to decrease behaviors that are problematic for their clients. ABA also helps improve memory retention, academic and social performance, and focus.

Its Broad Applications

While it’s most often recognized for its use in assisting children who register on the autism spectrum with adapting to new social situations, the practice-based therapy can be used in other contexts. According to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, since its development to assist individuals with intellectual disabilities in the early 20th century, its applications have been greatly expanded.

Today, it is used to assist individuals with substance abuse and behavioral fixation issues. Post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and even some panic disorders have benefited from its practice-based approach. The core concept remains that behavior is a product of circumstances. As such, therapists can adapt the techniques to suit individual client needs.

Structuring Its Use

The flexibility of applied behavior analysis is the primary feature of the approach that renders it one of the most highly effective treatments for a broad range of difficulties and cognitive disorders. Another mechanism of its flexibility is the many ways in which treatment programs are designed. Behavioral interventions for patients who register on the autism spectrum are generally a blend of highly-structured, individualized therapy sessions with assigned social homework between sessions and group sessions that engage the participation of caregivers. This multi-faceted approach proves significantly useful for children with spectrum disorders.

For individuals with PTSD, anxiety disorders, substance use issues, and behavioral fixations, therapists can tailor their approach to the given needs of the client. In an individual session, problem behaviors are identified, and homework is assigned—techniques that the client practices in real life situations that arise in connection with the particular conduct they seek to remodel. Reward systems are also enacted to reinforce the successful use of these techniques, while the repetition of negative behavior is ignored, thus marking it as an invalid or undesirable response to stimuli.

ABA provides a number of flexible approaches to assisting clients with behavioral challenges and social learning approaches. While there are a host of different therapeutic techniques available, many stem from this original design and simply emphasize different aspects, such as emotional acceptance of situations rather than active behavioral alteration designed to change outcomes. As such, applied behavior analysis has proven to be a more effective therapy than others for a number of different situations, challenges, and disorders.