ABA Therapy

ABA Therapy is a therapeutic approach used to replace negative/unwanted behaviour patterns with desired and more socially acceptable behaviours.


The principle of the practice comes from the work of B.F. Skinner and his theory of operant conditioning. Building on Thorndike’s law of Effect, which states that a behaviour that has a good outcome will likely recur more frequently than an action met with a negative outcome, skinner added the idea of reinforcement. Essentially if a behaviour is reinforced (praised or strengthened in some way), it will continue. If the undesired behaviour is ignored, it will gradually fade away until it stops.this technique helps rid an individual of unwanted behaviour while supporting deep positive change. It is a common form of treatment for substance abuse and some mental health conditions.

There are several methods by which ABA therapy functions. Positive reinforcement: It is the practice of offering a reward for good behaviour. The reward, (or reinforcer) strengthens a positive association with the action, thus making it more attractive. It is important to vary the technique, however. Reinforcers can lose their value overtime. Positive reinforcement works best when it’s both consistent and unexpected.

Negative reinforcement: negative reinforcement occurs when a behaviour is reinforced by the absence of something negative. For example, in the classroom, teachers want to reinforce positive behaviour by eliminating a homework assignment when students do well on a test. Positive punishment: this is used to stop unwanted behaviour. It involves adding something punitive to a situation as a consequence of negative behaviour. For example, student may be held in campus after school if they are caught texting during class. Negative punishment: removing something as a consequence in order to stop bad behaviour. For example, a parent may take away a child’s favourite doll if they will not eat all vegetables at dinner.

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