Psychology Wiki

Clinical behavior analysis has its origins in applied behavior analysis and behavior therapy. It is sometimes referred to as third generation behavior therapy .[1]

Current Models in Clincal Behavior Analysis

Clinical behaviour analysis represents a movement in behavior therapy away from cognitivism and back toward radical behaviourism and other forms of behaviourism, in particular functional analysis and behavioural models of verbal behaviour. This area includes Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy (CBASP) (McCullough, 2000), behavioural activation (BA), Kohlenberg & Tsai's Functional Analytic Psychotherapy, Integrative behavioral couples therapy and dialectical behavioural therapy. These approaches are squarely within the applied behaviour analysis tradition of behaviour therapy.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is probably the most well-researched of all the third generation behaviour therapy models. It is based on Relational Frame Theory.[2]

Functional Analytic Psychotherapy is based on a functional analysis of the therapeutic relationship.[3] It places a greater emphasis on the therapeutic context and returns to the use of in session reinforcement [4] In general, 40 years of research supports the idea that in-session reinforcement of behaviour can lead to behavioural change.[5]

Behavioural activation emerged from a component analysis of cognitive behaviour therapy. This research found no additive effect for the cognitive component.[6] Behavioural activation is based on a matching model of reinforcement.[7] A recent review of the research, supports the notion that the use of behavioural activation is clinically important for the treatment of depression.[8]

Integrative behavioral marital/ couples therapy developed from dissatisfaction with traditional behavioural couples therapy. Integrative behavioural couples therapy looks to Skinner (1966) for the difference between contingency shaped and rule governed behaviour.[9] It couples this analysis with a thorough functional assessment of the couples relationship. Recent efforts have used radical behavioural concepts to interpret a number of clinical phenomena including forgiveness.[10]


  1. Kohlenberg, R. J., M. Y. Bolling, J. W. Kanter, C. R. Parker (2002). Clinical behavior analysis: Where it went wrong, how it was made good again, and why its future is so bright. The Behavior Analyst Today 3: 248–253.
  2. Blackledge, J.T. (2003). An Introduction to Relational Frame Theory: Basics and Applications. The Behavior Analyst Today, 3 (4), 421-442[1]
  3. Kohlenberg, R. J. & Tsai, M. (1991) Functional Analytic Psychotherapy. New York: Plenum
  4. Wulfert (2002) Can Contextual Therapies Save Clinical Behavior Analysis? The Behavior Analyst Today, 3 (3), 254 [2]
  5. Cautilli,J. T. Chris Riley-Tillman, Saul Axelrod and Hineline, P. (2005). The Role of Verbal Conditioning in Third Generation Behavior Therapy. The Behavior Analyst Today, 6.(2), 138- 157BAO
  6. Jacobson, N.S., Martell, C.R., & Dimidjian, S.(2001). Behavioral activation treatment for depression: Returning to contextual roots. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 8, 255-270.
  7. Cullen, J.M. Spates, C.R, Pagoto, S. & Doran, N. (2006). Behavioral Activation Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder: A Pilot Investigation - The Behavior Analyst Today, 7.(1), 151-164.
  8. Spates,C.R., Pagoto, S. and Kalata, A. (2006). A Qualitative And Quantitative Review of Behavioral Activation Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder. The Behavior Analyst Today, 7.(4), 508-512[]
  9. Skinner, B.F. (1969). Contingencies of Reinforcement: A Theoretical Analysis. New York: Meredith Corporation.
  10. Cordova,J., Cautilli, J.D., Simon, C. & Axelrod-Sabtig, R. (2006). Behavior Analysis of Forgiveness in Couples Therapy. IJBCT, 2.(2), 192-213 [3]