Accessibility Tools

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy

What is Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy?

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is a type of psychological therapy applied to improve learning, communication, and social skills using reinforcement strategies. Sometimes ABA is also called autism behavioral therapy for its effective results in treating autism in children, but ABA is effective for both children and adults with other psychological conditions. ABA therapy can be provided by a therapist at home, at school, in clinic and in the community. ABA therapy can involve one-to-one teaching or group counselling.

Types of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Strategies

Therapists may use five different strategies to enforce ABA, including:

  • Discrete trial teaching: This technique aims to teach skills by setting simple tasks with cue-and-response structure that are rewarded when successfully completed.
  • Naturalistic teaching: This method of teaching allows the child to set their own learning pace based on their natural interests and abilities.
  • Pivotal response training: This teaching focuses on pivotal areas of the child’s development rather than individual behaviors.  It improves motivation, response to more than one cue, social setting structure, and self-regulation.
  • Token economy: This strategy rewards or removes a token based on predefined behaviors.
  • Contingent observation: This strategy is used in a group. It involves showing a child that their behavior is unacceptable and instructing the child to observe their peers performing a task successfully.

Who Requires Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy?

Applied behavior analysis (ABA)is can be used to treat with many psychological concerns, including:

  • Depression
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Fears and phobias
  • Issues with anger management
  • Severe anxiety 

Benefits of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)

Benefits of Applied Behavioral Analysis are as follows:

  • ABA significantly improves positive skills and behaviors
  • Discourages the unwanted behaviors
  • Decreases the need for special services for the autistic child in the future
  • Improves IQ 
  • Promotes social skills such as sharing, making friends, hygiene, grooming etc 
  • Improves language and communication skill

Demerits of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has a few drawbacks as well that includes:

  • Therapists focus more on stopping what is considered problem causing behaviors rather than identifying and developing a child's inherent skills like language, memory and so on.
  • ABA therapy might forcefully make a psychologically disturbed person behave normal like others. Here the patient’s feeling or thoughts might be ignored which can lead to increased stress.

How is Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy Conducted?

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy includes the following steps:


The initial consultation will include a functional behavior assessment (FBA). Your child’s medical history, your child’s strengths and abilities, and things that challenge them will be discussed with the therapist.


The therapist will spend time interacting with your child to observe their behavior, communication level and other skills. They might also visit your home and your child’s school to note your child’s behavior during typical daily activities.


Based on observations from the initial consultation, your child’s therapist will develop a formal plan for therapy that suits your child’s unique needs and treatment goals.

These goals generally include reducing problematic or harmful behaviors of your child, such as tantrums or self-injury and at increasing or improving your child’s communication and other skills. The plan requires specific strategies, caregivers, teachers, and the therapist to achieve treatment goals effectively.


ABA therapists also rely on parents and caregivers to help reinforce desired behaviors outside of therapy sessions. Your child’s therapist will teach you and your child’s teachers and caregivers about strategies such as how to safely avoid types of reinforcement that are less effective, like giving in to tantrums.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is one of the main strategies used in ABA therapy. When an acceptable behavior is followed by something valued (a reward), a person is more likely to repeat and adopt that behavior for the reward. Over time, this encourages positive behavior changes.

At first, the therapist sets up a goal behavior. Each time your child uses the behavior or skill successfully, they will get a reward. The reward might be praise, a toy or book, watching a video, access to playground or a trip and so on.

Interpretation and monitoring

ABA therapists also try to discover reasons for certain behaviors to help your child overcome and improve them. Some experts recommend up to 40 hours of ABA therapy each week. But therapists usually will cover 10 to 25 hours per week. This range can vary depending on your child’s needs. 

Over the course of therapy, your child’s therapist may adapt a concrete approach based on how your child responds to certain interventions. The therapist will continue treatment, monitor your child’s behavioral progress and analyze what strategies are working and where your child may benefit from different treatment techniques. The therapist will call for a meeting periodically to review the facts and progress and adjust teaching plans and goals as needed.

What are the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Treatment Goals?

The goals of treatment depend largely on your child’s individual needs. However, ABA often results in children:

  • Showing more interest in people around them, and learn to communicate and make friends
  • Learning to ask for things they want like a certain toy or food, clearly and specifically
  • Improving focus in school activities and academics
  • Reducing or stopping self-harming behaviors like displaying less tantrums or other outbursts
  • Being able to do work independently and have better self-care