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What Does an Applied Behavior Analyst (ABA) Do?

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An applied behavior analyst is a psychological practitioner that strives to gain an understanding of why and how behavior occurs. He or she conducts extensive research, and implements interventions based on ABA to focus on various types of behavior and social issues. These interventions intend to improve the quality of life of individuals and groups. The core duties of an ABA include evaluation of patient behavior, creation of behavior plans, collaboration with other professionals, and consultation with families.

Evaluation of Patient Behavior

An applied behavior analyst performs an initial assessment of a patient and then carefully observes him or her to note both developmental and social behaviors. He or she performs the observations in various settings including homes, schools, and social environments. He or she specifically notes if the patient is encountering any difficulties in behavior in these settings. An ABA keeps regular and up-to-date notes to effectively create a behavior plan and track progress. He or she also conducts assessments such as ABC analysis or FAST interviews.

Creation of Behavior Plans

After both objective research and a thorough observation, an ABA establishes goals for a patient and creates an individualized behavior plan. The plans are created using the principles and methods of applied behavior analysis to help modify the patient’s behavior. The plans strive to increase positive behaviors, such as self-control and self-monitoring, and teach new skills to improve interactions in social settings. They also intend to reduce interfering behaviors, such as self-injury and persistent repetition. In some instances, the behavior plans also include counseling and medication. The main goal of the behavior plans is to increase the overall functioning of patients and improve positive skills, including emotional development, adaptive and self-care abilities, coping and tolerance, language and communication, and social relationships. An ABA regularly reviews behavior plans to ensure they are effective, and he or she makes necessary modifications.

Collaboration with Other Professionals

An applied behavior analyst often works as part of a team of other professionals in the psychology and health fields. He or she provides expertise about a patient’s issues to enable the implementation of effective treatment plans. An ABA often works with primary health providers, residential treatment programs, and child welfare organizations. He or she often supervises the employment of behavior plans to ensure all members of the team are on the same page to achieve optimal results.

Consultation with Families

An ABA regularly communicates with families and caregivers about the needs of a patient. He or she explains the goals and behavior plans and discusses the progress of the plan. An ABA educates others on implementing parts of behavior plans to help in the increase of quality of life for patients. He or she also conducts interviews with family members, teachers, and other therapy professionals to gain input on ways to modify behavior.

An applied behavior analyst can find employment in a wide range of organizations, including hospitals, local and state governments, residential treatment centers, early childhood settings, and outpatient care facilities. He or she strives to make a difference in the lives of those suffering from a wide range of mental and emotional issues.

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