Behaviour analysis can be applied to a variety of populations across a variety of settings. Some of the areas include: mainstream education; special education (developmental and intellectual disabilities; Autism Spectrum Disorders); habit reversal; Acquired Brain Injury; child behaviour management; business and industry; organisational safety; gerontology; sports, health and fitness.
What do Applied Behaviour Analysts do?
Behaviour analysts focus on behaviour and behaviour change. Interventions are tailored to meet the needs of the individual seeking treatment and those treatments vary depending on the individuals’ needs. Therefore, behaviour analysts do not propose one “cookie cutter” approach to intervention. All interventions are guided by best practice research in the field and share similar features since all interventions are based on the scientific principles of behaviour.
Generally, behaviour analysts have two goals for treatment. First, they seek to improve functional or adaptive behaviours, for example: work performance, language, communication, social skills, academic skills, life skills, toileting, and feeding. Second, they seek to reduce unwanted or perhaps challenging behaviours, for example: assaultive behaviours, self-injurious behaviours, stereotypic behaviours, tantrums, food refusal or selectivity, employee tardiness or absenteeism, and accidents and injuries.
Naturally, the behaviours targeted for intervention will vary depending on the individual for whom treatment is necessary, taking into consideration the person’s age, diagnosis, and current behavioural repertoires. The types of interventions applied will also vary depending on the individuals needs. For example, the interventions designed for children with intellectual disabilities or autism are extremely different from those implemented in business and industry. The common bond they share, however, is that all behaviour analytic interventions are guided by the science of behaviour and therefore, all interventions share similar fundamental properties. In short, behaviour analysts understand how human behaviour works in many different contexts.
Are there different types of Behaviour Analysts?
All Behaviour Analysts have been trained in the fundamentals of behavioural science. However, most behaviour analysts receive further specialized training in a particular area and therefore, work with a specific population or focus on a specific area. For example, some behaviour analysts only work with individuals with autism or intellectual disabilities while others only work in business and industry. Similarly, some behaviour analysts work with children, while others may only work with adults.
Additionally, some behaviour analysts may have obtained a Clinical Psychology degree in addition to their behavioural training. Those behaviour analysts usually work with individuals seeking traditional therapy or work with individuals with mental illness or personality disorders.
The areas in which behaviour analysts work is generally dictated by the particular interests of that behaviour analyst and the specific training he or she received during their postgraduate training or under the supervision of field experts. A variety of behaviour analysis training courses exist all over the world and each course provides a different emphasis in training.