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with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

Parent Training as an Application of ABA: With Recommendations for Employers

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Parent training is an essential component of applied behavior analysis services for children with autism spectrum disorder. Although there is significant research on the effectiveness and benefits of ABA parent training, there seems to be less than optimal efforts in the application of the research within the field of applied behavior analysis on the subject (Miller, 2006).

This gap between science and practice leaves many children and families with untapped potential for growth and wellness (Aarons, Hurlburt, & Horwitz, 2011).

Although ABA is most known for its use for children with autism spectrum disorder, ABA is valuable for a vast array of populations and issues. Even within the ASD population, ABA can be used for areas with even more specific purposes. For instance, a behavior analyst may specialize in providing ABA to children with ASD in a school setting. They may work with only in-home clients. They may provide consultation to other service providers who provide the one on one direct services.

Additionally, ABA can be applied to the area of parent training.


In applying parent training in ABA, there are some characteristics of the service provider that can improve outcomes of the service. These are referred to as clinical competencies (Johnson, Butter, & Scahill, 2019).

These clinical competencies help the parent-service provider relationship, increases the effectiveness of parent-implemented interventions, and helps improve rapport between the parent and service provider.

Empathy is one of the essential clinical competencies that impact the application of ABA to parent training.

Being observant of the parent’s behaviors is another important clinical competency. Being aware of certain communication signals through body language displayed by the parent can help you to learn more about the parent’s interest and motivation for the training process. Being attentive to the parent also helps the service provider to make decisions about how quickly to move through material and content with the parent.

Regardless of the curriculum used in ABA parent training, service providers who individualize their services to the client and caregiver provide the highest quality ABA. They can also make decisions about parents regarding the parent’s readiness to utilize a specific strategy.

Some parents prefer structured training sessions while others prefer more flexible training sessions. Service providers who pay attention to the nonverbal and verbal communication of the parent can improve their services.


Companies or individuals who provide ABA parent training can publish their available service online to show their support for the application of parent training in the field of ABA as well as to show potential clients and parents that they offer this service.

ABA PARENT TRAINING SERVICE DIRECTORY is a listing of companies that offer parent training as a stand-alone service or in combination with other services such as direct one-on-one ABA treatment.

Although ABA is most known for its benefits to children with autism, identifying other areas to apply ABA can help individuals, families, and communities. Within the area of autism, service providers can focus on ABA parent training as a standalone intervention or as a supplement to direct ABA services.

Remember that parent training is not simply about following a manual of lesson plans. Incorporating clinical competencies like empathy and observation skills can improve the parent training services.

To demonstrate your commitment to parents and families and to show potential clients that you value family involvement, publish your services online here: ABA PARENT TRAINING SERVICE DIRECTORY.


Miller, L. K. (2006). Principles of everyday behavior analysis. Belmont (Calif.: Thomson/Wadsworth.

Parent Training as an Application of ABA: With Recommendations for Employers

APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2019). Parent Training as an Application of ABA: With Recommendations for Employers. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 26, 2019, from