What are the Key Components in Applied Behavior Analysis?

The use of applied behavior analysis (ABA) has proven to be quite successful in the encouragement or discouragement of targeted social behaviors; however, it’s important have knowledge of the applied behavior analysis components involved in a quality program in order to grasp how this therapy can be most effective. ABA is a behavioral modification approach used in therapeutic programs, both individual and group, to help teach the use of desirable behaviors and to extinguish problematic responses. ABA is a popular modality used when working with autistic individuals. Read on to learn just what are the key components involved in applied behavior analysis and how each plays a role in the success of a program.

Program Book

First, there should be a program book in existence for each child or member within the program. The format of the book isn’t as important as what is within the pages. The IEP, or Individual Education Plan, listing goals and objectives for that particular client’s needs should definitely be in the front of the book. Any assessments previously administered to the individual should also be included, as these could provide valuable treatment insight. Curriculum pages with accompanying data should be in the program book so that the entire treatment team working with each client can view the work that has currently been accomplished and what needs to be addressed. A section listing which goals and behaviors have been mastered is also of benefit. If applicable, accompanying therapies and their activities should be noted. For example, many clients are also involved in speech, occupational or physical therapy treatment. Finally, any observable or measurable behavioral data collected on the client should be recorded within its own section of the program book.


Prompting is a therapeutic strategy in which encouragement and guidance are provided to help clients learn new skills in an appropriate manner. A prompt acts as a reminder or nudge that keeps the individual on track toward behavioral goals. Receiving prompts helps to avoid frustration during the learning process, which leads to moving forward with a positive attitude and higher success rate. Allowing clients to become frustrated without providing prompting can cause negative behaviors to return and lead to setbacks.

Featured Programs

Prompt Fading

Another of the essential applied behavioral analysis components is prompt fading. Prompting does need to be balanced with adequate prompt fading so that clients do not become dependent upon the prompts in order to maintain appropriate behavior. Fading involves have a plan in place with a goal of systematically lessening the prompts until they are eventually no longer needed. Taking time to fade out the number of prompts provided allows the individual to work toward independently learning the targeted behavior. After all, the goal is for clients to eventually be able to function in everyday situations on their own.


Finally, there must be shaping in order for an applied behavior analysis program to work well. Shaping involves providing positive reinforcement for each attempt to learn a new skill. However, in order to continue to receive the reinforcement, individuals must continue to demonstrate improvement in attempts. Maintaining the status quo should not elicit positive reinforcement, as this level of performance does not motivate clients to reach their individual behavior goals.

Related Resource: Top 10 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Online Programs

ABA is an incredibly effective tool with regard to behavior modification. However, all of these essential applied behavior analysis components must be present if you expect the strategies to be successful.