Field to describing behavior. When describing behavior, one

Field Notes: Lesson 1

This week’s lesson
highlighted: the maturation of applied behavioral analysis (Chapter 1, Alberto
& Troutman, 2017), the essential use of scientific-based knowledge by
behavior analysts in order to provide comprehensive services to clients (BACB
Compliance Code, 1.01), the need to define behavior (BACB task List, FK-10) in
a clear, observable and measurable manner (BACB Fourth Edition Task List, I-01)
and the ability to provide services ethically, responsibly and within one’s own
competency (BACB Fourth Edition Task List, G-07).

With the development
of “best practices” in place, the foremost competency of a behavior analyst is
the ability to describe and define behavior. In Chapter 1, Alberto and Troutman
(2017), discussed the usefulness and a variety of approaches to describing
behavior. When describing behavior, one approach is biophysical/biochemical
explanations; and while its’ usefulness is poor in terms of inclusiveness,
predictive utility and parsimony, it’s still important and verifiable as a BCBA
to consider biological/medical variables that may be affecting the client (BACB
Fourth Edition Task List, G-02). According to BACB Compliance code 3.02, is
advisable to seek medical consultation if there is any reasonable possibility
that a referred behavior is influenced by medical or biological variables. I
found this interesting to note after recently viewing a video (TEDx Talks,
Daniel Amen) discussing how his nephew exhibited aggressive behavioral signs
and through medical investigation was found to have a brain cyst and upon
removal was relieved of all symptoms. As our textbook explains that the
likelihood of attributing behaviors to biophysical/biochemical explanation only
accounts for a small percentage of individuals, I believe not leaving “any
stone unturned” and to not discredit or discount the possibility and
verifiability.

A more useful way
to define behavior can be found in Chapter 2 of Cooper, Heward, and Heron
(2007), which defines behavior as an individual’s interaction with their
environment. This includes, but not limited to what they say, feel, think and their
response. A response is defined as a single instance of behavior. For example,
in the Relias module, (Principles of Behavior: Reinforcement), Levi displayed self-injurious
behavior. An example of Levi’s response to self-injury was hitting his face
when he was denied access to a reinforcer; a favorite toy. However, the task of
defining does not stop there. It is imperative of a behavioral analyst to not
only define behavior, but to do so in observable and measureable terms (BACB
Fourth Edition Task List, I-01).  Levi’s
behavior of self-injury was observed and measurably defined through his actions
of slamming his head into the ground and slapping his face. Upon clearly
defining Levi’s behavioral problems, a behavior analyst must then conduct a
behavior-analytic assessment prior to developing and implementing a behavioral
plan (BACB Compliance Code, 3.01a). In Levi’s case, the assessment found that
denying access to certain reinforcers such as toys or his mom, triggered his
self-injurious behavior and a behavior plan was implemented (Relias Module,
Principles of Behavior: Reinforcement).

Although behavioral analysis competencies
and procedures seem simple to understand,

 

assessing and implementing a behavioral plan may not be so
easy to do. In Chapter 2, Alberto &

 

Troutman (2017), describes a
competent behavior analyst as one who has the knowledge,

 

training, education and supervised practice. It is advised/required
by the BACB Fourth Edition

 

Task List G-07, to practice within
one’s limits of competence in applied behavioral analysis and

 

to get help as necessary. Hence, my current goal of pursuing
higher education after

 

an 11-year hiatus from school and working as a skills
trainer. Upon the completion of Lesson 1,

 

it has become evident that this is more than just a
“refresher” course for me.  In compliance
with

 

BACB code 1.02a, I am personally limited to the boundaries of
my competence

 

and can only provide services commensurate with my education
and training. I am concurrently

 

taking an online RBT certification course and hope to
acquire a position as an RBT in the near

 

future to acquire both current hands-on experience and facilitate
learning in my graduate studies.