6 Core Techniques Used in Applied Behavior Therapy

6 Core Techniques Used in Applied Behavior Therapy

Applied behavior therapy is a field that is becoming more common, especially with respect to working with children and with those that have a disability. The effectiveness of behavior aba therapy is well documented and has been helping those who are struggling to integrate into society or showing early signs of behavioral issues. There are a number of ways that behavioral therapy can be used to help those in need. Here are the 6 core techniques used in applied behavioral therapy.

Positive Reinforcement

One of the most effective techniques used in applied behavioral therapy, especially with children, is positive reinforcement. Something that some children and those with a disability can struggle with, is understanding how you should react in different situations. The best way to help with this problem is by using positive reinforcement. By encouraging and praising an individual after they respond to a situation correctly, they will start to change the way they act so that their behavior becomes more appropriate.

Children respond especially well to positive reinforcement and it is a great way to instill foundations for a future of good behavior. Their brains have not fully developed yet so if you introduce this type of technique at an early age, their behavior is more easily adjusted.

Negative Reinforcement


All children misbehave at some point but it is extremely important to address it as quickly as possible so it doesn’t spiral out of control. One of the best ways to do this is with negative reinforcement, so the individual understands straight away that they are not behaving in an acceptable manner. This usually involves some type of disciplinary action and punishment. What is extremely important when it comes to discipline is that the punishment is understandable and also consistent. This means that when you are given a punishment for certain behavior that there is a punishment every time that behavior is shown and that the disciplinary action is the same.

Times, when negative reinforcement goes wrong, is when there is an inconsistency with punishments. This is especially a problem with children who will start to become confused about whether their behaviors are acceptable or not which can actually cause more problems.

Prompting and Fading

Verbal and visual cues are examples of prompts that can be used to improve the behavior of an individual. It is a more subtle technique but can also be very effective in impacting someone’s behavior. A verbal cue can be something like letting them know that they are  behaving appropriately and should continue to act like that. A visual cue can be something like a gesture that acknowledges when someone is acting in the right way. An example of this would be removing shoes before entering the house where you give a small reminder to remember to do this. The goal is to reinforce the behavior to the point where they no longer need the prompt. 

Task Analysis


A more analytical technique used in behavioral therapy is something known as task analysis. With task analysis, the individual is given something to do and they are examined whilst they perform the task. Some of the things that it looks at with respect to behavior include physical actions, repetition, cognitive actions, and allocation. Once the task has been completed, adjustments can then be made more difficult or easier depending on how the individual got on with the task. Their performance can give a good idea of how they behave and what things need to be addressed first.


Generalization is a technique that is designed to help an individual with learning. The way in which this is done is by taking something that the individual has learned and then repeating it in a different setting. A good example of this is with a child that understands how to say the alphabet and then takes this learned skill and uses it to spell out their own name.

Behavior Contracts

Behavior contracts are an effective technique for setting out goals for an individual to achieve and then rewarding them once they have completed the tasks or behaved like they were meant to. It helps make clear goals for an individual to achieve and helps them concentrate on working towards the target. Once they have finished they are rewarded which is another form of positive reinforcement. The individual will feel motivated to complete the behavior contract and will feel good about achieving something on their own.

Asheley Rice

I am a pop culture and social media expert. Aside from writing about the latest news health, I also enjoy pop culture and Yoga. I have BA in American Cultural Studies and currently enrolled in a Mass-Media MA program. I like to spend my spring breaks volunteering overseas.

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