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.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #401
CE Offered: BACB
New Frontiers for Behavior Analysts: Emotional Development, Internalization, and Conscience
Monday, May 28, 2007
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
Edward D
Area: CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jeannie A. Golden (East Carolina University)
Discussant: Nathan H. Azrin (NOVA Southeastern University)
CE Instructor: Jeannie A. Golden, Ph.D.

Children who have experienced abuse, neglect and/or separation from parents often exhibit severe behavioral difficulties that can result in expulsion from homes, schools and various community programs. With the structure, consistency and positive reinforcement provided by behavioral treatment programs, the behavior of these children often improves, they can frequently be maintained in these settings, and they are sometimes found to have been misdiagnosed. However, they often have continued dependency on the external structure provided by the behavioral treatment program. This is manifested by a failure to generalize positive behaviors in alternate settings and/or to internalize the values and motivation provided by the external structure. These children tend to show no indication of experiencing the emotions of joy, pride, shame, guilt, anxiety or fear. Their behavior appears to be strictly influenced by external stimuli and does not seem to be modulated by emotions. They tend to exhibit what appears to be a false sense of high self-esteem, show no indication of having a conscience, and seem to lack any genuine emotional expressiveness other than anger. A theoretical interpretation based on behavioral principles of the issues discussed above will be provided with specific behavioral treatment strategies to address these issues.

Hey, You’re a Behavior Analyst, Don’t Get All Emotional on Me.
Abstract: When discussing the treatment of children who are labeled as having emotional and behavioral challenges, many descriptions may be used to indicate behaviors of concern. These terms may include: lack of conscience, lack of “genuine” emotionality, refusal to take responsibility for their actions, inappropriately high levels of self esteem. Traditionally many people view these areas as internal psychological issues and thus not the province of intervention for behavior analysts. This presentation will describe how Behavior Analysts can and should operationally define these euphemisms for observable and measurable behavior. We will then describe how environmental contingencies may shape the presence, absence or “insincere” demonstration of these behaviors. Lastly, we will describe how the absence of precise descriptions of these terms may set the occasion for the application of imprecise and ill defined interventions, and a willingness not to measure outcomes of these often poorly described treatments.
Talking about Traumatic Experiences from the Past: Therapeutic or Traumatizing?
WALTER WITTY PRATHER (Agency for Persons with Disabilities)
Abstract: Often traditional therapists see the need to talk with their clients about traumatic events that have happened in the past in order to allow those clients to "deal with" the pain from their trauma and to "get some relief". The idea is that their clients will be able to "move on" and cope more effectively with the challenges in their present life once they have “dealt with” their trauma. Behaviorists question the legitimacy of this approach to therapy for several reasons. First, there is the risk that talking about these events may set the occasion for the same trauma to occur that occurred when the event first took place. Secondly, there is the possibility that some of the facts about what actually occurred are inaccurate or erroneous. This is possible based on research findings related to recovered memories and the difficulty in obtaining accurate information about an event that occurred in the past. Finally, the specific goals of therapy are neither clearly delineated nor objectively defined and quantified. The presenter will provide alternative methods using sound behavioral principles that accomplish specific goals for improved behaviors of clients who experience present difficulties due to traumatic past events.
When Psychiatric Symptoms Become Functional.
CYDNEY JO YERUSHALMI (Agency for Persons with Disabilities)
Abstract: As a behavior analyst, how are you supposed to respond to a client who says, at your first meeting, “I have an anger management problem.” Or a mother introduces you to her child and says, “ I have bipolar disorder, and so does she.” With these introductory remarks, you are to understand that their behaviors are beyond their control and that very likely, you will be unable to be effective either. People who have had traditional “talk therapy” are convinced that they are victims of their diagnoses and that the words used to describe their symptoms have in some magical way become them. This paper will discuss the effect that explanatory fictions have on clients and the barriers that interfere with behavior analysis. It will look at ways that the behavior analyst can overcome those barriers in order to provide effective behavioral treatment.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh