Why we Might Choose to "Care" about Trauma-informed Care in ABA Practice and Research

Why we Might Choose to "Care" about Trauma-informed Care in ABA Practice and Research

Although the construct of trauma has largely eluded a thorough behavior analysis, considerations surrounding trauma and trauma-informed care (TIC) have indubitably entered mainstream applied behavior analysis (ABA).

In the absence of clear findings and guidance from a TIC research program, conversations surrounding the matter—which have permeated published literature, peer review, everyday practice interactions, and social media—have been polarizing. Some submit that ABA has not done enough to incorporate TIC, while others assert it is entirely unnecessary, perhaps even harmful for the discipline. Yet others remain skeptical to embrace TIC in ABA until more data reveal the utility (or lack thereof) of the framework. This talk is an attempt to bring clarity, vocabulary, and nuance to this timely discussion. I will first define trauma across multiple levels of scientific understanding and provide a defensible behavior-analytic interpretation. Then, I will outline core commitments of a TIC framework and describe how to incorporate them into ABA. Finally, I will articulate and respond to several concerns and questions that have entered the discourse surrounding trauma and TIC. My primary intention is to increase your capacity and willingness to advocate for TIC in ABA in conversations and collaborations with colleagues, caregivers, and clients.

At the conclusion of this presentation, attendees should be able to:

  1. Define trauma across descriptive, predictive, and explanatory levels of understanding
  2. Delineate behavioral and medical health risks associated with experiencing potentially traumatic events
  3. Outline the core commitments of trauma-informed care as they relate to ABA
  4. Recognize that and why we have a responsibility to not contribute to trauma in the name of ABA

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