What Types of Interventions do Applied Behavioral Analysts Use?

The behavioral interventions that Applied Behavioral Analysts use will ultimately depend on their training, competency and area of focus. Here are the most common types of interventions that these certified mental health professionals regularly use with clients.

Behavioral Interventions

Behavioral interventions are designed to promote appropriate behaviors, such as cleaning up and social interaction, and to discourage inappropriate behaviors, such as self-harm and aggression. Applied behavioral analysts focus on breaking down target behaviors into small and achievable tasks that are consistently reinforced with structure and encouragement. For instance, for a child who struggles to learn a certain subject, the applied behavioral analyst will focus on setting up an appropriate environment that encourages learning and interaction. Behavioral analysis and behavioral psychology are both based on the fact that immediate positive reinforcement to target behaviors result in certain behavior changes.

Relationship Interventions

Relationship interventions are family-based behavioral treatments that are designed to focus on certain behaviors. The theory behind relationship interventions is the idea that dynamic intelligence and familial relationships plays critical roles in improving behaviors. To illustrate, the goal of many relationship interventions is to teach children how to properly engage in and maintain social relationships. At the beginning, children learn how to develop relationships with their parents, siblings and other family members. This may be in the form of daily, perfunctory greetings or chores. These interventions primarily rely on parents who play the role of gentle teachers. As the client develops positive relationships with other role models, these individuals are used to guide and exemplify appropriate behaviors.

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Positive Behavior Support

Positive behavior support, or PBS, is an approach that uses environmental interventions. That is, improved environmental conditions result in improved behaviors and lifestyles. It also results in decreases in problem behaviors and negative environmental stimulations. Positive behavior support emphasizes certain values, such as validation, normalization, self-determination, individual respect and person-centered planning. This intervention model is based on preemptive controls and stimuli in the environment. These applied interventions use educational techniques to review and alter the client’s behavioral habits through removing negative environmental stimuli. For example, public schools often use PBS to train bus drivers how to handle situations that naturally occur on the bus. PBS helps bus drivers to understand the unique social environment of buses in order to control and maintain safe behaviors.

Cognitive Behavioral Interventions

Cognitive behavioral interventions, or CBIs, are often used by mental health professionals who work in schools and academia. The goal of CBI is to alter behaviors by identifying destructive thought patterns and replacing them with positive cognitive thought patterns. These strategies aim to correct or remove cognitive distortions through applying logical and factual evidence. Goals are specified, decisions follow set patterns and there are standard measurements of progress. Cognitive behavioral interventions focus on problem-solving and accomplishing target tasks. This method of cognitive restructuring is similar to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBI) because it helps clients to recognize genuine feelings and vicious cognitive cycles through self-monitoring and self-awareness techniques.

Related Resource

Additional behavioral interventions include psychodynamic, counseling and community-based interventions.