Behavior analytic practitioners report an almost exclusive reliance on indirect and descriptive methods for assessing challenging behavior and cite safety as one reason why they do not conduct functional analyses (Ellingson et al., 1999; Oliver et al., 2015; Roscoe et al., 2015). Since the publication of the traditional functional analysis (Iwata et al., 1982/1994), several methodological changes have been recommended in the interest of safety (see Hanley, 2012 and Iwata & Dozier, 2008). This presentation will focus on practical functional assessments (PFAs), first described by Hanley et al. (2014). PFAs provide practitioners with a safe and ethical option when tasked with assessing dangerous behavior. Synthesis of establishing operations and reinforcers (Hanley et al., 2014); open contingency classes that include non-dangerous, co-occurring topographies of behavior (Warner et al., 2019); and slow progression of establishing operations (Ward et al., 2021; Whelan et al., 2021) are critical components that will be discussed. 

Learning Objectives 
  1. An attendee should be able to describe the procedures of a safe functional analysis of dangerous behavior.
  2. An attendee should be able to describe how procedures of a safe functional analysis of dangerous behavior align with the BACB Code of Ethics. 
  3. An attendee should be able to advocate for the use of safe functional analysis of dangerous behavior to caregivers and other stakeholders.

About the Presenter

Cory Whelan
Dr. Cory Whelan graduated from The George Washington University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech-language pathology and studied applied behavior analysis at UMASS Boston. A Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and a Licensed Applied Behavior Analyst (LABA), he obtained his doctoral degree in behavior analysis at Western New England University under the advisement of Dr. Gregory Hanley. His clinical experience includes delivering speech and behavior analytic services in public schools, private residential schools, and adult day/residential programs. 

Dr. Whelan serves as the Director of Clinical Services for the Developmental Services and Brain Injury divisions at Vinfen, a multi-state human service agency for people with mental health conditions, intellectual and developmental disabilities, brain injuries, and behavioral health challenges. In his role, he oversees all clinical systems and service delivery for day and residential programs. Dr. Whelan is passionate about the delivery of compassionate and effective ABA services across the lifespan. His research interests include the assessment and treatment of severe problem behavior, training staff to implement Practical Functional Assessments and Skills-Based Treatments, and evaluating strategies for delivering effective services that result in long-term, generalized effects. His research has been published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA), Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders and Child and Family Behavior Therapy. He has served as a guest reviewer for several behavior analytic journals including JABA, Behavioral Interventions, Behavior Analysis in Practice, and the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Course information

  • Title: Functional Analyses of Dangerous Behavior
  • Presenter: Cory Whelan Ph.D, BCBA
  • Duration: 1 hour and 40 minutes
  • Customer Rating: (312)

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