What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?

ABA is a data-driven but human approach to creating desired outcomes involving any aspect of human behavior, from coping mechanisms and emotion regulation to human connection and social skills. ABA is also effective for physical abilities, such as enhancing one’s finger grip.  ABA is unique from other branches of psychology in that it is systematic and scientific – progress is measured through observable gains rather than perceived ones. All ABA Sessions are in-home and materials are individualized.

 ABA is considered a medical practice

and is often used to treat people with learning or social impairments, but it is not limited to these populations.  ​ABA is for anyone looking to learn anything through a methodological and potentially repetitious approach catered specifically to the individual's learning styles and strengths. In instances of "problem behaviors", such as sexual aggression or snapping at one's partner daily when coming home from work, a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) is often conducted to determine the function of the undesired behavior so a more desirable outcome can be found that meets the same function.  See more about this in the FBA section further below.

​Is ABA Just for Problem Behaviors?

Sometimes, we want something but don’t know how to get it or achieve it for ourselves.  If there’s a skill that needs building or reshaping, ABA is a proven method of reaching that desired outcome.  (For instance, if a person is attempting to rekindle his romance with his wife after receiving a spinal cord injury, ABA can be utilized to help determine what skills he is capable of and how to achieve an intimate connection with what is physically possible, perhaps by focusing on other physical sensations or the emotional sensations that come with intimacy.)

               ABA can also be utilized to teach educational curriculums to people who require additional assistance with the learning process, for reasons such as Autism, Down Syndrome, or Intellectual Disability, to name a few.  For these individuals, a simple Skills Assessment (a pre-test) replaces the FBA prior to onset of learning.

What is a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) or Functional Analysis (FA)?
In many ABA programs regarding problem behaviors, the first step is a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)​.  This is when a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) conducts a combination of observation and assessment tools to determine the individual’s current state of behavioral functioning.  (For instance, if a person is engaging in a sexually destructive behavior, the BCBA or BCaBA will determine the function of the behavior so a desirable replacement can be determined and progress can be made toward the desired behavior.)

The Functional Analysis of Behavior (FA) is similar, but perhaps more direct and effective.  It involves directly manipulating the situation/environment to ensure problem behavior can occur by providing a variety of conditions under which it may; the resulting data lets the BCBA know rather quickly the function of the behavior.  This would be a secondary measure in most cases, used if the FBA is inconclusive or if the behavior isn't dangerous or unethical to evoke from the client.

               The program is then outlined at length with recommendations; these can often be used to receive funding from insurance or local agencies for services that may otherwise be costly when paid out-of-pocket.  Once the FBA has been accepted and funding approved, the recommendations lead to a Treatment Plan that is then followed and modified as needed to promote success and work toward an end to treatment needs.

​On This Page:

   1. Overview "What is ABA?"

   2. "Is ABA Just for Undesired Behaviors?"

   3. "What is a Functional Behavior


   4. ABA Services Offered at Empowered

​A Sample Data Sheet:

ABA Services Offered:

1. ​In-Home ABA (Private Pay or Insurance)

      A. Sessions typically 2 hours in length

      B. Receive individualized materials and

          curriculum, goals and data sheets

      C. Behavior Analyst works directly with client

          toward educational and skills goals​:

​               *Sex Education Curriculum

​                     - Not just taught, but APPLIED to life

                       through roleplays and real-world

                       exposure treatments

​               *Dating Assistance

​               *Hygiene Assistance

​               *Sexual Skills Building (Becoming more in

                          tune with the Self and/or Partner)

       D. Receive regular data updates and

           adjustments to Treatment Plan goals

       E. Treatment Integrity -- Parents or Guardians of

           clients who are minors or have intellectual

           disabilities will be trained on how to further  

           facilitate learning between sessions

       F. Advocacy Services are included in this;

          hours will be billed either as Treatment

          Planning or Private Pay

2. Parent or Staff Trainings(Can be funded a

          variety of ways)

        A. In some cases, trainings are all that are

            needed to facilitate better understanding

            between people in an environment

        B. When direct therapy can be avoided and

            costs reduced, why not go this route?

        C. Learn to implement behavioral principles and

            strategies, and think from a behavioral


        D. Goals set are for the whole family or team

3. ​In-Office Behavior Therapy(Private Pay

            and DMH clients)

       A. Come to a secure and therapeutic location for

           a 1-2 hour weekly session with a Behavior

           Analyst or other qualified therapist to address

           specific behavioral concerns or educational


       B. Work toward set goals each month and

           receive a monthly report

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