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with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

BCBA Exam Study Topics: Intervention Strategies

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This post will be addressing some examples of intervention strategies that a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) might use while working to help an individual increase his skills or decrease certain types of maladaptive behavior (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007). See Cooper, et. al. (2007) for more information on the following topics.

Differential Reinforcement of Lower Rates (DRL):

  • Reinforcement on a full-session DRL schedule is provided when responding (specific target behaviors occur) during an entire session is equal to or less than a predetermined level (criterion).
  • On an interval DRL schedule, the session is separated into equal intervals (amounts of time) and reinforcement is provided at the end of each interval in which the number of responses during the interval was equal to or less than a predetermined level (criterion).
  • Reinforcement on a spaced-responding DRL schedule looks at the interresponse time (IRT). Reinforcement is only provided when the IRT (time between instances of the behavior/response) is at a minimum amount of time. Increasing IRT between instances of the behavior decreases the overall frequency or rate of the behavior leading to lower rates of the behavior.

Noncontingent Reinforcement (NCR):

  • NCR is when stimuli that are known to have reinforcing properties are presented on a fixed-time (FT) or variable-time (VT) schedule regardless of the behavior of the individual.
  • 3 procedures of NCR
    • Positive Reinforcement (ex: providing attention)
    • Negative Reinforcement (ex: providing escape from tasks)
    • Automatic Reinforcement (ex: without social mediation; sensory experiences)
  • An NCR schedule may serve as an abolishing operation (AO) in regards to decreasing the likelihood of engaging in problem behavior. Since the individual will already be receiving the reinforcement they were receiving for problem behavior, they may have less motivation for engaging in a maladaptive response.

Reference: Cooper J.O, Heron T.E, Heward W.L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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BCBA Exam Study Topics: Intervention Strategies

APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2015). BCBA Exam Study Topics: Intervention Strategies. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 19, 2019, from