Behavior analysis and the psychology of operant conditioning is the scientific study of behavior and learning. In the professional realm, behavior analysts study socially significant behavior as well as its relationship to the individual’s environment to better understand why people do what they do.
Applied behavior analysts operate as both scientists and therapeutic practitioners. This leads to a wide variety of specialties within the applied behavioral analysis fields. Career specialties can range from medicine to psychology, as well as marketing and even law.
This means there is a lot that you can do with an applied behavior analysis degree. If you are in the process of earning your ABA degree or you are thinking about becoming an ABA therapist, you might be asking yourself some of the following questions.
What Is A Career In Applied Behavioral Analysis?
Careers in the applied behavioral analysis field are wide-ranging. Most people with an ABA degree choose an area of expertise that can vary from classrooms to clinical settings, educational settings, and even corporate offices. Though a lot of applied behavior analysts do their best work with children who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
ABA therapy is considered to be the gold standard for helping children and adults on the autism spectrum to live their best life. ABA therapists work closely with these individuals and their families to address behavioral problems, as well as influence habits and learn to make healthy lifestyle choices.
What Are ABA Specialists?
Within the realm of applied behavioral analysis and operant conditioning, there are several areas of focus where ABA professionals choose to specialize in. This includes things like:
Experimental Behavior Analysis
Experimental behavior analysis is applying scientific discipline to identify problem behaviors, as well as using behavioral modification techniques to address these problem behaviors. This is done by making observations to see what is working and what’s not.
This type of approach has been used to develop a large and highly respected body of research literature that helps therapists of all disciplines to better understand how behavior is learned and how it changes over time.
Since changes in behavior can be dynamic and often require an ongoing process, behavior analysts need to be constantly documenting and analyzing these changes over a broad span of time. Experimental analysis plays an important role in determining how specific behaviors function concerning specific environments or environmental events.
Applied Behavior Analysis
Applied behavior analysis essentially takes the information cultivated from research and then applies it using operant conditioning techniques to solve behavior problems in the real world. This data-driven approach to applied behavior analysis relies on the findings from objective research as well as interpersonal analysis.
The Role of ABA Therapies
ABA therapeutic techniques are designed to implement interventions in a targeted and measurable way. The treatment plan for each patient is based on specific problematic behaviors. This means that the ABA strategy for one patient might include techniques designed to help them simply cross the street safely. For another ABA therapeutic techniques might be used to curtail aggressive behavior, and gradually replace it with healthy social behaviors.
Variables like the population, skill deficits, problem behaviors, and environment are all taken into account by applied behavior analysts when creating a treatment plan customized to the individual. ABA therapy techniques can be used to do things like:
- Increase and maintain healthy behaviors
- Teach new skills
- Improve social interactions
- Increase on-task behaviors
- Reduce interfering behaviors
- Transfer behavior from one situation to another
- Replacing negative behaviors with healthy positive ones