Field Notes: Lesson 1This week’s lessonhighlighted: the maturation of applied behavioral analysis (Chapter 1, Alberto& Troutman, 2017), the essential use of scientific-based knowledge bybehavior analysts in order to provide comprehensive services to clients (BACBCompliance Code, 1.
01), the need to define behavior (BACB task List, FK-10) ina clear, observable and measurable manner (BACB Fourth Edition Task List, I-01)and the ability to provide services ethically, responsibly and within one’s owncompetency (BACB Fourth Edition Task List, G-07). With the developmentof “best practices” in place, the foremost competency of a behavior analyst isthe ability to describe and define behavior. In Chapter 1, Alberto and Troutman(2017), discussed the usefulness and a variety of approaches to describingbehavior.
When describing behavior, one approach is biophysical/biochemicalexplanations; and while its’ usefulness is poor in terms of inclusiveness,predictive utility and parsimony, it’s still important and verifiable as a BCBAto consider biological/medical variables that may be affecting the client (BACBFourth Edition Task List, G-02). According to BACB Compliance code 3.02, isadvisable to seek medical consultation if there is any reasonable possibilitythat a referred behavior is influenced by medical or biological variables. Ifound this interesting to note after recently viewing a video (TEDx Talks,Daniel Amen) discussing how his nephew exhibited aggressive behavioral signsand through medical investigation was found to have a brain cyst and uponremoval was relieved of all symptoms. As our textbook explains that thelikelihood of attributing behaviors to biophysical/biochemical explanation onlyaccounts for a small percentage of individuals, I believe not leaving “anystone unturned” and to not discredit or discount the possibility andverifiability.A more useful wayto define behavior can be found in Chapter 2 of Cooper, Heward, and Heron(2007), which defines behavior as an individual’s interaction with theirenvironment.
This includes, but not limited to what they say, feel, think and theirresponse. A response is defined as a single instance of behavior. For example,in the Relias module, (Principles of Behavior: Reinforcement), Levi displayed self-injuriousbehavior.
An example of Levi’s response to self-injury was hitting his facewhen he was denied access to a reinforcer; a favorite toy. However, the task ofdefining does not stop there. It is imperative of a behavioral analyst to notonly define behavior, but to do so in observable and measureable terms (BACBFourth Edition Task List, I-01). Levi’sbehavior of self-injury was observed and measurably defined through his actionsof slamming his head into the ground and slapping his face. Upon clearlydefining Levi’s behavioral problems, a behavior analyst must then conduct abehavior-analytic assessment prior to developing and implementing a behavioralplan (BACB Compliance Code, 3.01a). In Levi’s case, the assessment found thatdenying access to certain reinforcers such as toys or his mom, triggered hisself-injurious behavior and a behavior plan was implemented (Relias Module,Principles of Behavior: Reinforcement). Although behavioral analysis competenciesand procedures seem simple to understand, assessing and implementing a behavioral plan may not be soeasy to do.
In Chapter 2, Alberto & Troutman (2017), describes acompetent behavior analyst as one who has the knowledge, training, education and supervised practice. It is advised/requiredby the BACB Fourth Edition Task List G-07, to practice withinone’s limits of competence in applied behavioral analysis and to get help as necessary. Hence, my current goal of pursuinghigher education after an 11-year hiatus from school and working as a skillstrainer.
Upon the completion of Lesson 1, it has become evident that this is more than just a”refresher” course for me. In compliancewith BACB code 1.02a, I am personally limited to the boundaries ofmy competence and can only provide services commensurate with my educationand training. I am concurrently taking an online RBT certification course and hope toacquire a position as an RBT in the near future to acquire both current hands-on experience and facilitatelearning in my graduate studies.