Association for the Advancement of Radical Behavior Analysis

Photo by Alessandro Prato on Unsplash

By Carla Lasagna Del Val

In 2021–22, AARBA has been actively involved in various initiatives, specifically regarding the ABA community and the growth and strengthening of our discipline in the educational, political, research and organizational fields. We are glad to share what we did to date, hoping to inspire other Chapters and to accomplish even more satisfactory results in the future.

Dissemination & ABA Community
The chapter participated in the ABAI 48th Annual Convention. After two years of pandemic restrictions, we were finally able to present and assist in person, in Boston. During this event, we had the opportunity to attend to several interesting symposia and panels, plus two events that involved us directly. On May 29, our president, Fabio Tosolin, presented the paper, “The Requirements for a Successful Behavior-Based Safety Process”. The presentation focused on the fundamental elements that need to be adopted to assure the growth of the BBS scientific discipline, using examples that could support the theory behind it. Dr. Tosolin also participated as the chair of one of the convention poster sessions on May 30.

This year, we were able to hold the 15th edition of our Scientific European Conference on Behavior-Based Safety (B-BS) and Performance Management (PM) and the 17th edition of our Scientific European Congress on Applied Behavior Analysis. As in the previous year, the event was formed by two sessions, one focusing on the application of behavior analysis in BBS and PM projects and the second on the application in relation to the clinical field. Due to the pandemic, we decided to organize the event entirely online, as we did in the previous year. Participants had the option to participate in specific workshops, symposiums, and a plenary session. Most of the audience came from OBM-related fields, with HSE managers, HR managers, consultants, and work psychologists, but also many clinical psychologists and therapists in the field of ABA. At the event we had the honor to host international guest speakers, such as Mike McCarthy (author, trainer and performance improvement consultant), Janis Allen (founder of Performance Leadership Consulting), Nicole Gravina (assistant professor of behavior analysis in the Department of Psychology at the University of Florida), Steve Roberts (co-founder and senior partner at Safety Performance Solutions), and Sigurdur Sigurdsson (full commissioner for the Behavior-Based Safety Accreditation Commission of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies). These speakers provided high focus on the importance of developing safety culture and effective communication to increase and maintain the adoption of BBS processes. Through the theorical background provided by OBM and behavior analysis pioneers at this event, we were able to present the audience some real-life examples of BBS implementation.

Regarding behavior analysis applied to the clinical field, we had the honor to listen to both international and national professionals like Siri Ming (scientist/practitioner), Henry Schlinger (Professor of psychology and former director of the MS Program in Applied Behavior Analysis in the Department of Psychology at California State University), and other leaders in ABA. The speakers brought a massive contribution in relation to the recent developments in the field, through innovative and evidence-based strategies that could provide support to families and clients even during the lockdown period. The event ended with a presentation by Richard Malott (Ph.D., BCBA-D), titled, “Behavior-Based Safety, Autism, and the Mystery of Rule-Governed Behavior.” This conference was attended by more than 200 people with the unique aim to continue with the divulgation of the science of behavior analysis.

On December 1–3, 2021, we renewed our commitment to Ambiente-Lavoro, the biggest Italian fair about environment and safety at work. Representatives of the chapter had the opportunity to participate in person, by holding two presentations. The first presentation was held by one of the AARBA researchers, and gave an introduction and theorical explanation on behavior analysis, specifically BBS protocol for increasing safety at work sites. The second presentation was conducted by our president, with the aim to inform the Italian scientific community about the fundamental ethical concerns that need to be considered when implementing a BBS protocol, or in any other area when adopting a process based on behavior analysis. Having the opportunity to participate in person this year helped us with the main aim of the association, to promote the divulgation of our science, specifically in Italy. Representatives manned a booth, where people were able to find information (articles, research, fliers on the courses we provide, and data) regarding the science of behavior analysis and specifically its application in the field of BBS.
The president of the association, for various years, has been collaborating with dentists in the application and creation of seminars and protocols focusing on the implementation of behavior analysis strategies in the dentistry field. These presentations and courses have focused on various arguments: patience compliance, motivation of the team, motivation to improve the quality of the treatment given to the patient, clinical risk reduction, support for people with specific diagnosis, developing a behavioral system analysis, and more. All of them implement the use and adoption of evidence proven systems that allows individuals to measure theirs and others’ behaviors.

Higher Education
During the last two years, we have been focusing providing education that individuals working in the field of behavior analysis often require. For this purpose, we have had the opportunity to start with two editions of the Verified Course Sequence of the Italy Associate Chapter of ABAI. With this effort, we hope to bring a change in Italy, not only in terms of the knowledge of ABA, but also on the correct and specific implementation that needs to be adopted—from everything to BBS processese to the ABA in schools and home environments and beyond. The project of the VCS is something AARBA is willing to continue working on, not only to support the people that need a behavior analytic treatment, but even for the behavior analysts itself.

During the months of September and November 2021, we held the 42nd and 43rd edition of our 80-hours B-BS post-graduate course, where we trained another class of students, safety, and operations professionals. During this course, individuals are not only trained on the theoretical background of behavior analysis and its implementation on the OBM field, but they are even exposed to the practical aspects (creating a checklist, presentation of data analysis, conducting safety meetings, etc.). Specifically with the 42nd edition, we had the opportunity to organize a course with the Italian railway organization and develop a course specifically for them. Through research and previous experiences, we designed the course to make specific references to work contingencies students are exposed to daily, using concrete examples students could relate to and during the practical parts of the course we focused on the development of their future BBS process.

Research Projects
As far as research is concerned, in collaboration with the Polytechnic of Milan, we collaborated again with some master’s degree theses. In 2022, we are currently supporting two interns. The current project, which started during the month of February, will be focusing on the use of a BBS process in relation to the reporting of vehicke malfunctions and/or tools that are used in the daily activities of the workers. The research is being conducted in a construction site within the Italian railway system; specifically, contributing to the creation of railways that connect Milan with Genova. As research has shown, BBS processes reduce the number of injuries in a working organization, through the development of safe behaviors, but also through the creation of safety values, thus reducing barriers to safety. Therefore, through such research, the students will learn how BBS processes can be adopted to increase communication between all the levels within an organization—from the individual workers to the management team, creating a rigid, and possibly more stable, process.

Corporate Consulting
The chapter contiunes its commitment corporate consulting with interventions based on training and OBM. Throughout the year, our president has been invited as a guest speaker to two different events focusing on the application of OBM techniques in the dentistry field. The first event was held at the San Raffaele Hospital, in Milan, with a presentation focusing on the application of the science of behavior analysis to increase both patient and team compliance in a dental practice. Furthermore, from September until November, we had the opportunity to organize an online course for the Italian Association for Assistance. The course had the aim to inform assistance in relation to patient compliance, team motivation, motivation to improve the quality of the treatment given to the patient, clinical risk reduction, support for people with specific diagnoses, developing a behavioral system analysis, and more. The course was led by our president and with the collaboration of other chapter members.

As you can see, we are working hard on several fronts to promote applied behavior analysis knowledge and technologies in public and private institutions, with the hope of achieving even greater results. See you next year!