Jonathan Tarbox

Jonathan Tarbox
Program Director at Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program, University of Southern California

Jonathan Tarbox, PhD, BCBA-D, is the Program Director of the Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program at the University of Southern California, as well as Director of Research at FirstSteps for Kids. Dr. Tarbox is Associate Editor of the journal Behavior Analysis in Practice and serves on the editorial boards of four major scientific journals related to autism and behavior analysis. He has published four books on autism treatment and well over 70 peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters in scientific texts. His research focuses on behavioral interventions for teaching complex skills to individuals with autism, treatment of feeding disorders, and technology in autism treatment. He is a frequent presenter at autism and ABA conferences worldwide, and a regular guest on television and radio.

Title

Behavioral Flexibility Training: Bringing A Behavioral Analysis of Private Events into the Everyday Practice of Behavior Analysts

Abstract

Skinner always conceived of behavior analysis as a comprehensive science of psychology and, starting in 1945, laid the conceptual groundwork for how the “mind” can be addressed from a radical behavioral perspective. In particular, the science of behavior can and must include an analysis of the mind as private events in terms of the same behavioral principles that apply to overt events. In recent decades, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been developed and empirically validated as a behavior analytic approach to psychotherapy but psychotherapy remains outside the scope of practice for the vast majority of practitioners in applied behavior analysis (ABA), and rightfully so. However, the functional analyses of relations between verbal and nonverbal behavior (private and public) that form the core of ACT are relevant to virtually all areas of socially relevant behavior displayed by typically developing humans who enjoy repertoires of complex language, including derived relational responding. In particular, most socially relevant behaviors seem to involve at least some degree of struggle between short-term negative reinforcement and long-term positive reinforcement (often verbally constructed) and at least some degree of maladaptive control by rigid rules. The purpose of this presentation is to apply these functional analyses, originally conceptualized in the ACT literature, to the daily practice of mainstream researchers and clinicians in ABA. We will discuss how such an approach moves the science of behavior analysis closer to the goal of a comprehensive application of behavioral principles to all human behavior, including the behavior of behavior analysts, both overt and private.