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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #494
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Rethinking Mental Health: A "Post-Internal" Analysis of the Behaviours and Contexts Found in "Mental Health" Symptoms, the DSM, and Psychological Therapies

Monday, May 29, 2017
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Mineral Hall D-G
Area: CSS; Domain: Theory
CE Instructor: Bernard Guerin, Ph.D.
Chair: Susan M. Schneider (Root Solutions)
BERNARD GUERIN (University of South Australia)
Bernard Guerin is Professor of Psychology at the University of South Australia, where he teaches social and community behaviour, language and discourse analysis, and social science interventions. He trained at the Universities of Adelaide (Ph.D.) and Queensland (Postdoctoral), and then taught at James Cook University and the University of Waikato (NZ). His broad goal has been to integrate social and community psychology, discourse analysis and behaviour analysis with the other social sciences into an a-disciplinary framework that can be used for practical analysis and intervention. Most of his research is focused on working alongside communities, primarily on issues of responding to racism, mental health, mobility, sustainability of communities, and attachment to country. He has worked in partnership with Indigenous Australian, Maori, Somali refugee, and migrant communities.

In this talk I will discuss how we can analyse "mental health" symptoms, the DSM and psychological therapies as behaviours-in-context. The main focus will be on the social, economic, societal and cultural contexts, and showing the historical invention and development of "mental health" metaphors as western societies changed. Along the way I will illustrate with examples drawn from my participatory research on the "mental health" of Indigenous and refugee communities. The discussion will also highlight what needs to be changed within behaviour analysis if it wishes to engage more in social and community research.

Target Audience:

Academic and professional behavior analysts

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) discuss the history of mental health metaphors; (2) describe examples of community level behavioral interventions; (3) discuss how behavior analysis needs to change in order to improve its contributions to social and community level interventions.



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Modifed by Eddie Soh