By Nicole Robinson

The Atlantic Provinces Association for Behavior Analysis has recently marked our eighth anniversary as an affiliated chapter of ABAI. We are amazed by the growth in membership that we have experienced since our inception in 2014, from 44 members in our first year to a large increase in membership of 117 at the end of APABA’s fiscal year (October 2022). We have 97 full members, 18 student members, 1 affiliate member, and 1 honorary member. Although the wide geographical region served by APABA poses some unique challenges, we also recognize the benefits and opportunities we are afforded by drawing together behavior analysts, educators, interventionists, partner professionals, and others interested in behavioral science and its application in the four Atlantic Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. We have also seen a continued increase in the number of members and partner professionals completing the requirements to become certified by the BACB since the inception of APABA. While there were 16 Board Certified Behavior Analysts (Master’s or Doctorate-level) or Board-Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts in Atlantic Canada in 2014, and 26 in 2017, we now have 110 (NB=60; NL=8; NS=34; PEI=8;

Our biggest update for the 2022 year is the adoption and publication of our Position Statement on the Use of Procedures that Increase the Risk of Harm. The development of this publication was driven by our mission to be a source of leadership and support in the sharing and practice of the science of applied behavior analysis (ABA) across the Atlantic Provinces. This statement was also motivated by recent public discussion of the use of aversive procedures in ABA, specifically contingent electric skin shock (CESS), but also other procedures that have been used by the field. In late spring of 2022, the Research and Advocacy Team convened to determine how to respond to this public discussion. Recognizing that there was little to no guidance or regulations surrounding procedures that increase risk and harm for recipients of ABA in the Atlantic Provinces, the Research and Advocacy Team determined a statement addressing more than one specific procedure was warranted. To gather member input about these procedures, a survey was sent to all APABA members. The responses were used to frame the development of our position statement, along with the guiding tenets of the BACB Ethics 1 Code, and other position statements published by organizations in the field of behavior analysis (e.g. ABAI’s position statements). The recommendations from our Position Statement on the Use of Procedures that Increase the Risk of Harm are meant to be minimum standards for those providing behavior support services as behavior analysts, while also recommending that anyone using behavior change tactics use those that are least intrusive, least harmful, and least likely to infringe on recipient rights.


Goals outlined in the APABA 2020–2022 Strategic Plan include: Increasing the number of active members by 30%, increasing the yearly number of professional learning opportunities offered from five to nine, and fulfilling the needs of each committee with the needed number of members. APABA committees include Research & Advocacy, Education, and Engagement, and in March 2022, a newly formed committee was introduced, Special Interest Groups, and a chair for this committee was secured. The goal of this new committee is to focus on special topic areas pertinent to behavior analysis in an Atlantic Canadian context. This addition was based on frequent polling of our members via Facebook and email to gather feedback on what members valued most regarding our strategic plan initiatives. Poll results indicated that members were seeking information about leadership supervision and intervention procedures (January 2022). In turn, educational events reflected these requests, such as our first educational event of 2022, on the topic of Self-Marketing: A Creative Guide to growing your impact, presented by Brent Platt, MBA, Vice-President Atlantic and Senior Consultant Global Philanthropic Inc. This event provided strategies and tools that behavior analysts can use to gain confidence and effectively disseminate their message. Our next educational event in April featured Dr. Greg Hanley to discuss The Behavioral Health Index: Measuring the Effects of Trauma-Assumed Applied Behavior Analysis. The objectives of this talk were for attendees to describe values that have implications for how to respond to mild and severe forms of behavior and describe the behavioral health measurement system for evaluating individual and program-wide interventions for severe problem behavior. In May, one of our members hosted an educational event on the topic of the RUBI Parent Training Program: Making Evidence-Based Practice Work in the Real World. In this session, participants learned about the RUBI program and how to use this information to design individualized treatment. In June, APABA hosted Dr.Tyra Sellers for an informative education session about Ethical Supervision and Leadership that highlighted compassion in supervision and incorporating ethical content into supervisory practices. In November, Dr. Maggie Pavone shared her knowledge of organizational behavior management and how to develop related competencies in this scope of practice.

In December at our Annual General Meeting, two learning opportunities were provided. Dr. Malika Pritchett presented on the topic of Magnificence: Envisioning Full Dignity and Humanity, focusing on examining coercive environments and power, how to ensure balance, and prioritize human rights above all when serving others. APABA member, Ashley Kingston, also spoke about her training and application of the Skills Based Treatment Approach.

Starting in December 2021, the APABA executive made the decision to turn the Strategic Plan into a living document to be reviewed and updated at each executive meeting. Upon reflection and evaluation, the education opportunities hosted by APABA aligned well with the preferred topic areas expressed by membership, however, two additional opportunities were required to meet the goal of nine opportunities annually. In 2022, the Engagement Committee and other members shared 25 CEU education opportunities from other organizations on our social media platforms, which helped to ensure that members received pertinent information in this domain.

Each committee mentioned above has goals, expectations, and priorities outlined based on the goals in the Strategic Plan. A primary goal of APABA is to promote and encourage the development and awareness of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice within our region. We also seek to facilitate networking and expand opportunities for professional connection and collaboration among and between our members and others in the field. To that end, the Research and Advocacy Committee conducted 4 interviews with our members to showcase different applications of ABA practice. These recorded interviews were then shared with members on our Facebook page. Further, APABA has participated in multiple ABAI Annual Conventions, presenting posters at the conferences in San Antonio (2015), Chicago (2016), Denver (2017), San Diego (2018), Chicago (2019), and Washington (2020), and Denver (2023). Our members have also presented at ABAI’s international conferences, such as Puerto Rico, Paris, and Denver. Our members are delivering training throughout and beyond the Atlantic Provinces and, at times, internationally, such as Switzerland and Paris. In July 2022, some of our members were invited to speak and deliver poster presentations at the Contemporary and Compassionate Approaches to Support People with Developmental Disabilities Conference in New York, US, on the topic of implementing Practical Functional Assessment and Skills-Based Treatment with the preschool population and staff training.

To continue to support the professional learning needs of our members, three-member benefits need mentioning: We dedicate a portion of our Annual General Meeting to continuing education, focusing on areas of emerging need and interest among members. Past keynote presenters have included: Drs. Robyn Catagnus and Elizabeth Fong who shared their work on increasing cultural competence in behavior analysts, supporting APABA members to engage in more culturally proficient professional practice, Drs. Kelly Schieltz, Matthew O’Brien, and Todd Kopelman, who trained attendees on the use of telehealth to train and coach interventionists supporting learners with ASD, Dr. Patrick McGreevy who trained attendees on how to select a curriculum for children with autism and children with developmental disabilities, Dr. Gregory Hanley who presented on the latest iteration of the practical functional assessment process (PFA) that allows for the development of skill-based treatments (SBTs) capable of producing socially valid outcomes, and Dr. John Bailey who presented on changes to the BACB Ethics Code. As mentioned above, our 2022 AGM professional development was led by Dr. Malika Pritchett on the topic of prioritizing dignity and humanity in our practice. Another professional learning initiative is that APABA members are offered a 10% discount at the Atlantic Provinces Autism Conference held in November in New Brunswick. Finally, APABA continues to be an ACE provider to be able to provide CEUs to our members. A primary goal of APABA is to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. In 2021, a new scholarship was established to support individuals who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) students in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis in the Atlantic Provinces. This scholarship of up to $350 is awarded on a bi-annual basis to successful applicants and has thus far been awarded to three applicants. It is also the aim of the current executive to promote the establishment of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Special Interest Group within our newly formed SIG Committee. Since APABA serves such a broad geographical region spanning Canada’s four Atlantic Provinces, it is essential that we make effective and efficient use of electronic media and web-based platforms as we seek to support current members and reach prospective new members. The Engagement Committee releases a monthly newsletter to share information about recent and upcoming events.

The ABAPA website (, which continues to evolve, is also an integral tool for communicating with members. Not only does it provide a central location for sharing information and resources, but it has also been expanded to allow for online registration and payment for APABA events (as well as online donations to our local awards) and to provide a gateway to APABA’s social media presence through our Facebook page and Twitter account. In 2022, we expanded our social media platforms to include Instagram and LinkedIn and even hosted our Annual General Meeting on the virtual platform, Gather Town.

APABA members are also now able to purchase winter hats embossed with the APABA logo through our website, which brings fun and engagement to our members as they represent APABA by wearing their hats, as well as having hats offered as free giveaways and prizes during events. APABA also continues to provide awards to its members, including the Verna O’Coin Memorial Bursary, the Marlene Breitenbach Award, and the William L Heward Behavior Change Award for a Sustainable Future.

Looking Ahead

APABA has been the beneficiary of a host of gracious gestures and an abundance of support from behavior analysts and partner professionals since we first set out on this journey eight years ago. We continue to extend our sincere appreciation to all who have helped us along the way. As our membership continues to grow and as we extend our reach across Atlantic Canada, our goal is to continue to build upon the initiatives that we have begun and to create new opportunities and pathways to share the value of behavioral science throughout our region. As part of this movement, we have been encouraging social get-togethers in our varied geographic regions, especially now that the pandemic restrictions have subsided. We also look forward to, and welcome, opportunities to connect with other ABAI-affiliated chapters across Canada and beyond to expand opportunities for professional learning, networking, and collaboration. As a step to achieve this goal, APABA members have formed a Canadian ABAI Chapter Executive Members Facebook Group. This group currently has 18 members, representing the seven affiliated Canadian ABAI chapters across the country (APABA, QCABA, ONTABA, MABA, SABA, AltaABA, BCABA). From east to west, we will continue to stay connected and move forward the philosophy, science, application, and teaching of behavior analysis.

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