The application of applied behavior analysis to the field of social work: Lessons in data collection and best-practices


The field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a discipline among the helping professions that is based on the scientific study of the principles on learning and behavior. It has been noted that, behavior analytic methodology can be an invaluable tool for multidisciplinary practice. For the field of social work this is true. The two fields have similar goals, similar ethics, and similar methodology; these similarities will be beneficial in seamlessly merging the two field’s principles into one effective practice model. The integration of ABA practices in the field of social work as it relates to in-depth assessment, effective data collection, progress monitoring, generalization, and maintenance planning will enhance programming for clients and increase effective outcomes. The concept of merging the two fields in the application of clinical services will be reviewed and tips will be discussed in this chapter. Using ABA principles as a template for effective social work practices will not only benefit clients, but also social work clinical expertise to new heights.

Publication Title

Data Collection: Methods, Ethical Issues and Future Directions

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