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Understanding and Applying RFT: Complex language as the foundation of our work and our lives as contextual behavior scientists

Understanding and Applying RFT: Complex language as the foundation of our work and our lives as contextual behavior scientists

Workshop Leader:
Siri Ming, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Evelyn Gould, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Julia Fiebig, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Dates and Location of this 2-Day Workshop:
San Francisco Hilton Union Square
CE credits available: 12.5
Tuesday, June 14, 2022 - 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, June 15, 2022 - 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Workshop Description:

Language changes everything. From infancy through adulthood, language influences and dominates our sense of self, our choices, our opportunities, our relationships, our communities, our societies - the cultures that shape us all. Language is an inescapable part of what makes us human. A comprehensive understanding of complex language and the increasingly complex web of interlocking contingencies that influence every one of us, is therefore critical to our immediate effectiveness in our work, as well as how we exist in the world as professionals and the influence we have as a profession. Understanding and using complex language processes is integral to building the bridges that allow us to work effectively with others and impact the world. In short, words matter.

Behavior analysis is a compassionate and relational science centered around fostering choice, freedom, social justice, and contingencies of joy. We view the practice of behavior analysis as requiring psychological flexibility on the part of practitioners, and we view increasing psychological flexibility and prosociality as a primary socially valid outcome for our interventions. Understanding how to promote and use our own complex languaging repertoires, including curiosity, empathy, compassion and humility, are necessary for us to effect meaningful change when cooperatively working with clients. These same repertoires are critical for working towards social and environmental justice and taking action in our communities. Language creates context, language changes context. Language creates and transforms the context for action.

As behavior analytic practitioners (including BCBAs, therapists, psychologists, social workers, educators and indeed, anyone working from a CBS standpoint) working with others to effect change, understanding RFT allows us to approach complex human behavior, relations and problems (at the individual, group, systems and cultural level) with precision and rigor. Towards this end, Drs. Ming, Gould and Fiebig present the essential principles of RFT, including RFT conceptualizations of the development of generative language, the self, and rule governed behavior, in addition to relational framing in the context of groups, including supervision, mentorship, effective messaging, and prosociality within and between organizational, social and cultural systems. We include an emphasis throughout on those repertoires necessary to create cooperative contexts for change, with prosocial interactions and systemic contingencies that support sustainability, diversity, inclusion and equity. We will consistently guide participants from theory to immediate application, with practical tools presented throughout.

This workshop will be presented in four parts. Throughout, participants will be introduced to the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of RFT, and guided through application using real-world examples, experiential exercises, modeling and feedback, small-group activities, and group discussions. Part 1 presents the theoretical basics of RFT, including how relational frames can be viewed as the building blocks of language and cognition, and how complex verbal repertoires and a sense of self develop. Part 2 explores how complex verbal repertoires affect behavior at the level of the individual, introducing the role of rule-governed behavior and private events. Part 3 examines how to incorporate RFT into a deeper understanding of the interlocking contingencies between individuals and within groups, with an emphasis on the repertoires needed to create cooperative contexts for change. Finally, in Part 4, we zoom out to examine relational framing in the context of prosociality within and between organizational, social and cultural systems, with particular emphasis on issues of sustainability, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of RFT (and behavior analysis more broadly) and plan of action for incorporating what they have learned immediately into their work and lives as behavior analysts.

About Siri Ming, Ph.D., BCBA-D: 

Siri Ming, PhD, BCBA-D, is a scientist-practitioner with over twenty-five years of experience in the field. She is committed to the compassionate practice of behavior analysis to help people live meaningful, values-directed lives. Her research and clinical focus is on applications of relational frame theory (RFT) to early intervention programs for children with autism, integrating Skinnerian verbal behavior with RFT. She has authored numerous peer-reviewed research and theoretical articles on applications of RFT, as well as a practical handbook series on using RFT in early intervention programs. She teaches and acts as subject matter expert for graduate level classes in verbal behavior for the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and has been an associate editor for The Analysis of Verbal Behavior journal. Her work is grounded in values of rigor, generosity, and kindness.

About Evelyn Gould, Ph.D., BCBA-D:

Evelyn Gould is a Clinical Behavior Analyst and Licensed Psychologist from N.Ireland, currently based in Los Angeles, CA. Evelyn is a trainer and supervisor at The New England Center for OCD and Anxiety, and is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Keck School of Medicine at USC. She is also a Research Associate in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Evelyn provides clinical services to children, adolescents, young adults, and families, in addition to engaging in applied research and scholarship. She has published articles and book chapters on working with caregivers, clinical assessment and treatment design, training and supervision, ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and practitioner well-being. She is passionate about the dissemination of contextual behavioral treatment approaches and addressing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in Behavior Analysis. Evelyn is actively involved in a variety of Special Interest Groups and Task Forces within the ABAI and ACBS communities, and is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science.

About Julia Fiebig, Ph.D., BCBA-D:

Julia Fiebig, Ph.D., BCBA-D, is assistant teaching professor at Ball State University in the applied behavior analysis program, and a partner in Applied Global Initiatives Consulting Group. She is from Germany and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. A practicing behavior analyst for over twenty years, she has a range of experience working with clinical, educational, and other non-profit and private organizations. She has served on task forces for ABAI and ACBS and currently serves on the board of special interest groups and ABAI’s Practice Board. A primary emphasis of her work is helping leaders and organizations cultivate values-informed, consensus-building, prosocial practices and sustainable systems. She is dedicated to work on issues of environmental justice, and contributing to wider application and dissemination of a compassionate behavior science.

Learning Objectives:

Following this workshop participants will be able to:

  1. Describe language and cognition from the perspective of functional contextualism as behavioral repertoires, including the defining properties of relational framing as a generalized operant repertoire.
  2. Describe the development of relational framing as a generalized operant repertoire across multiple patterns of relating, characterized by multiple dimensions and levels of developmental complexity.
  3. Describe the RFT concept of the self, and how a repertoire of “self-ing” develops.
  4. Define psychological flexibility from a behavior analytic perspective, as a complex composite relational framing repertoire involving behavioral variability, deictic and hierarchical framing, and valuing.
  5. Identify different types of rule-following (pliance, tracking, augmenting) in everyday life and clinical and supervisory practice, and identify the role of rule-governed behavior in the development and maintenance of problematic patterns of behavior.
  6. Define cooperation from a behavior analytic perspective as a complex composite relational framing repertoire involving curiosity, empathy, compassion and humility.
  7. Describe the critical role of cooperative speaker and listener behavior in creating a prosocial, socially valid context for behavior change when working with individuals, groups, or within systems.
  8. Explain how language (i.e., relational framing) influences willingness to engage in behaviors that promote sustainability more generally, as well as environmentally relevant behaviors with respect to climate change action specifically.
  9. Identify ways that language (i.e., relational framing) creates and maintains systems of oppression and privilege, and influences engagement in behaviors (at the individual and group level) that promote diversity, inclusivity and equity.
  10. Identify three behavior change goals relevant to your own practice and community, and take steps towards achieving them.

Target Audience: Intermediate, Advanced, Clinical, Applied (in non-clinical settings)

Components: Conceptual analysis, Literature review, Experiential exercises, Didactic presentation

Package Includes: A general certificate of attendance, lunch, and twice daily coffee/tea break on site.

CEs Available (12.5 hours): CEs for psychologists, BCBA, social workers (NASW type), counselors (NBCC type)

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