The Traumatic Stress Institute fosters the transformation of organizations and service systems to trauma-informed care (TIC) through the delivery of whole-system consultation, professional training, coaching, and research.
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FREE Webinar: Trauma-Assumed Behavior Analysis for People with IDD

April 19, 2023 / by Steve Brown, PsyD

The Traumatic Stress Institute (TSI) is excited to bring you a free webinar highlighting the work of Greg Hanley, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LABA. In 2020, TSI made the strategic decision to offer our trauma-informed care (TIC) training and consultation services to organizations in the intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) sector. We have or currently are working with eight IDD organizations, helping them embed TIC within the fabric of their organizational cultures.

Organizations supporting people with IDD – especially those serving children – tend to rely heavily on interventions rooted in applied behavior analysis (ABA) to manage severe problem behavior. Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA's) often play critical roles as consultants or leaders in IDD organizations, designing and implementing plans, sometimes carried out by Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT's).

But a reckoning is happening in the ABA field over what many see as the trauma-inducing nature of some traditional ABA practices. As IDD organizations begin to implement TIC to more compassionately support people that have suffered trauma, they must grapple with how to change some ABA practices that are embedded in their systems.

Dr. Hanley is smack in the middle of that reckoning. After working with people with IDD for over 30 years, publishing over 100 chapters and articles, and training waves of ABA doctoral students (to name only a few of his accomplishments), he began critically examining his own – and others’ – practices, recognizing that some were causing harm and not leading to desired changes. This led him to develop what he calls “Today’s ABA,” a contemporary and compassionate version of ABA. In a 2020 article, A Perspective on Today’s ABA from Dr. Hanley, he writes,

"ABA has the potential to inflict trauma, and it has the potential to alleviate trauma...I have been attempting to correct my mistakes and improve the way I do ABA through research, authentic practice, consulting, and especially listening to other voices outside my choir for many years. I won’t make excuses for my behavior or that of other BCBAs. I simply apologize. I apologize for not doing more, saying more, pushing more, or disrupting more. Consider this a step in the direction toward self-awareness, improvement, transparency, accountability, and an obvious commitment to protecting the rights of those we serve…"

Dr. Hanley asserts that “Today’s ABA is trauma-informed.” This means Today’s ABA assumes any person being served by a BCBA has experienced multiple adverse events or traumas. It means learning through listening; building and sustaining trust; following the person’s lead; establishing and repeatedly returning to a state where people are happy, relaxed, and engaged rather than working through avoidance, noncompliance, and emotional distress; and teaching from joy.

In this free webinar entitled Trauma-Assumed Behavior Analysis for People with IDD: From Trauma-Inducing to Trauma-Reducing, Dr. Hanley will share his journey and discuss the implications of Today’s ABA for IDD organizations working to reduce trauma and foster healing.  Join us!


      Webinar Registration      

Tags: IDD Organizations

Steve Brown, PsyD

Written by Steve Brown, PsyD

Steve Brown, Psy.D., is the Director of the Traumatic Stress Institute of Klingberg Family Centers. A clinical psychologist, he is a primary architect of TSI’s internationally-recognized whole-system change process to trauma-informed care. He is a co-creator, with Dr. Courtney Baker, of the Attitudes Related to Trauma-Informed Care (ARTIC) Scale, one of the first psychometric measures of TIC. He trains professionals nationally on psychological trauma and trauma-informed care. In addition to being a psychologist, he is a long time sexuality educator/trainer and author of Streetwise to Sex-Wise: Sexuality Education for High Risk Youth, a sexuality education curricula used internationally by agencies and schools serving high-risk youth.