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Behavioural Therapy

What is Behavioural Therapy?

Behaviour therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on changing undesirable behaviours. The therapy involves identifying objectionable, maladaptive behaviours and replacing them with a socially desirable, healthier and adaptive type of behaviours

Behaviour analysis was originally described by B.F. Skinner in 1930. You may have learned about Skinner and “operant conditioning” when you studied science in school. The principles and methods of behaviour analysis have been applied effectively in many circumstances to develop a wide range of skills in learners with and without disabilities.

What is Applied Behaviour Analysis?

Behaviour analysis is a scientific approach to understand behaviour and how it is affected by the environment. “Behaviour” refers to all kinds of actions and skills (not just misbehaviour) and “environment” includes all sorts of physical and social events that might change or be changed by one’s behaviour. The science of behaviour analysis focuses on principles (ie; general laws) about how behaviour works, or how learning takes place. For example, one principle of behaviour analysis is positive reinforcement. When behaviour is followed by something that is valued (a “reward”), that behaviour is likely to be repeated. Through decades of research, the field of behaviour analysis has developed many techniques to increase useful behaviours and reducing those that may be harmful or that interfere with learning. Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) includes techniques and principles to address socially important problems, and to bring about meaningful behaviour changes.

Who Can Benefit from ABA?

ABA methods have been used successfully with many kinds of learners of all ages, with and without disabilities, in different settings. In the early 1960s, behaviour analysts began working with young children with autism and related disorders. Those pioneers used techniques in which adults directed most of the instruction, as well as some in which children took the lead. Since that time a variety of ABA techniques have been developed for building useful skills for learners with autism of all ages. Those techniques are used in both structured situations (such as formal instruction in classrooms) and in more “natural” everyday situations (such as during play or mealtime at home) and in 1-to-1 as well as group instruction. These techniques are used to develop basic skills like looking, listening and imitating, as well as complex skills like reading, conversing, and taking.

Use of ABA principles and techniques has expanded rapidly in recent years. ABA is used to help people with autism to live happily and productively. Today, ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism. It has been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies including US Surgeon General and New York State Department of Health.