Bobbi Hoadley

Behaviour Therapy for Anxiety Disorders with Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)

Anxiety takes many forms, it expresses differently in each Functional Behaviour Analysis with each person who lives with it. Some people feel it constantly, some anticipate it, others experience sudden panic attacks. With some individuals anxiety is created in specific places or only with certain people.

As a result of its many forms, anxiety can be resistant to treatment, and sadly the person living with anxiety can be blamed for that resistance. Medications provide some relief but little resolution.

Research tells us that the most effective therapies are behavioural. Because anxiety presents so uniquely in the person and personality, a Functional Analysis of Behaviour is the most efficient and effective approach. Other behavioural therapies include Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which we at Parley integrate with a technical fit, into most interventions where stress or anxiety are contributing behaviours. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be effective when resistance or reactivity that are just emerging or not presenting strongly.

In the analyses that the Behaviour Consultants do at Parley Services, we often see an element of stress or anxiety contributing to other behaviours that are causing challenges in a person’s life. The anxiety can be the underlying problem or sometimes just a symptom of the real problem. There are times when we discover that behaviour that has been labeled “Anxiety” is really just typical and productive stress, which can be easily managed in healthy ways. In youth we sometimes see challenges being labeled bythem as anxiety, but after behaviour analysis we realize that it is a red herring or misleading information. Anxiety is reaching epidemic proportions in youth so it is not surprising that other challenges could take on a peer mediated label.

It is critical with Anxiety Disorders to figure out the precipitating factors, eliciting dynamics, target responses, visceral or physical responses, learning history, and the maintaining consequences. When we have that information through a functional analysis of the behaviour we can target positive supports for change that overcome resistance and reactivity.

Any disorder, including anxiety can be supported to good recovery. Anxiety Disorders may feel like a dead end, but in fact anxiety and overwhelming stress are a good reason to seek solutions for positive life change, your way.