Toward trauma-informed applications of behavior analysis

J Appl Behav Anal. 2022 Feb;55(1):40-61. doi: 10.1002/jaba.881. Epub 2021 Sep 15.


Despite a growing acknowledgement of the importance of understanding the impacts of trauma on therapeutic approaches across human service disciplines, discussions of trauma have been relatively infrequent in the behavior analytic literature. In this paper, we delineate some of the barriers to discussing and investigating trauma in applied behavior analysis (ABA) and describe how the core commitments of trauma-informed care could be applied to behavior analysis. We then provide some examples of how trauma-informed care might be incorporated into ABA practice. We conclude by suggesting opportunities to approach trauma as a viable avenue for behavior analytic research and argue that omitting trauma-informed care from ABA could be detrimental not only to the public perception of ABA, but to the effectiveness of our assessment and treatment procedures.

Keywords: applied behavior analysis; shared governance; trauma; trauma-informed care.