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.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Symposium #453
CE Offered: BACB
The Behavior Analyst's Role in Changing Sexual Behavior: A STEP SIG Symposium
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
202 (TCC)
Area: PRA/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Fawna Stockwell (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Discussant: Bobby Newman (Full Inclusion Living and Learning Unitarian University)
CE Instructor: Fawna Stockwell, Ph.D.

Behavior analysts can employ scientifically supported treatments to build functional skills related to sexuality, as well as effectively decrease levels of sexual problem behaviors. Sexual behaviors are comparable to other types of human responding in that they can be understood as resulting from similar processes, but they are unique because of their sensitive aspects on both personal and cultural levels. The purpose of this presentation is to discuss how behavior-analytic techniques have been, and can be, used to improve peoples sexual well-being and minimize potential risk of harm. This presentation will also explore the current roles that behavior analysts play in the assessment and treatment of sexual behavior issues and investigate strategies that may promote high-quality, ethical work in this area.

Keyword(s): developmental disabilities, sex education, sex work, sexual behavior

Prevalence, Prevention, and Treatment of Sexual Abuse in the Developmentally Disabled Population

LAURA MAHLMEISTER (KGH Consultation & Treatment, Inc.), Charles T. Merbitz (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Fawna Stockwell (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)

Sexual abuse toward individuals with developmental disabilities is an increasing concern as they may be more susceptible to abuse than the general population (Lumley et al., 1998). Sobsey and Doe (1991) reported that 49% of developmentally disabled individuals will be a victim of 10 or more incidences of sexual abuse in his or her lifetime. Previous research has examined preventive procedures which include behavioral skills training in both structured and naturalistic settings (e.g., Lumley et al., 1998; Miltenberger, Roberts, Ellingson, & Galensky, 1999). The purpose of this presentation was to review previous research on behavior-analytic preventive programs and treatment for sexually abused individuals with developmental disabilities. In addition, this presentation described the barriers of reporting sexual abuse cases, the factors that make individuals with developmental disabilities more susceptible to sexual abuse, and the strategies for identifying the signs of abuse. Discussion will also include recommendations for graduate school programs to teach future behavior analysts how to detect and implement preventive methods to decrease sexual abuse in the developmentally disabled community.

An Analysis of the Metacontingencies Maintaining Prostitution
KASSIDY RATLEDGE (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Farah Bacchus (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Fawna Stockwell (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Abstract: Prostitution (i.e., sex work), is a moral dilemma that has been historically relevant since 4000 B.C. (Clarkson, 1939). Despite legal interventions, social stigma, and reported violence, the practice of sex work persists in current society. Therefore, it is critical to analyze the individual and metacontingencies that maintain sex work from a functional, not only moral, standpoint. This presentation will include a review of maintaining variables that perpetuate continuation of illegal sex work. The field of behavior analysis can play a critical role in developing possible interventions to arrange the environment to maximize welfare and minimize violence related to individuals directly and indirectly impacted by sex work. Proposed interventions to promote welfare and minimize safety issues related to sex work will be analyzed and discussed in behavior analytic terms.

Sex Therapy and Educational Programming (STEP) Special Interest Group: Promoting Responsible Treatment of Sexual Behavior

Lorraine M. Bologna (The Cincinnati Center for Autism), Jessica Gamba (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), FAWNA STOCKWELL (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Bobby Newman (Full Inclusion Living and Learning Unitarian University)

The field of behavior analysis lacks training programs and certifications specific to the analysis and treatment of sexual behavior, despite the typical behavior analysts occasional inclusion of sexual behavior in treatment goals. Existing training programs and certifications are not behavior-analytic, and few behavior analysts involve themselves in them. This project aimed to assess how STEP SIG could support behavior analysts who treat sexual behavior in equipping them with training specific to their needs. We constructed a survey to gather information in key areas such as: how many behavior analysts assess and treat sexual behavior, how often do so, what behavioral issues are most common, and what resources they would find helpful in their work (e.g., ethics training, measurement systems, behavior-analytic resources such as libraries and online clinical communities, creation of ABA certification program to promote competent and ethical treatment). Results indicated high variability in training and experience working with sexual behavior, and multiple participants indicated a need for additional resources and training in this area. The results of this survey will inform future projects completed by STEP SIG to offer support to behavior analysts and promote the use of effective, ethical techniques in the treatment of sexual behavior.




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