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Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Addressing Challenges to Virtual Services

In this video interview, Dr. Dominguez, the Founder of Shaping Change, describes how she uses applied behavior analysis with her clients. According to Dr. Dominguez, therapists aim to teach clients new skills while also addressing challenging behaviors with this “hands-on type of therapy.”

Examples include adapting to client learning styles through “visual cards” that cue clients to a therapist’s instruction, or by determining a client’s preferred method for communicating. In Dr. Dominguez’s experience, she’s noticed that when you teach practical skills to clients, there is usually a corresponding decline in challenging behaviors.

When implementing virtual applied behavior analysis, Dr. Dominguez says that it can “break down a lot of barriers,” but there can also be challenges that emerge with young clients who have attentional difficulties. Even though this work can require more family involvement, Dr. Dominguez reports that “the positives to being able to access services really outweigh some of those challenges.” 

To overcome attention difficulties through telehealth, Dr. Dominguez advises that caregivers become a “huge part of the session” to help redirect and get clients back on task. While telemental health online counseling services can add an alternative to traditional therapy sessions, it often comes down to what’s best for the client.

For parent caregiver training, telehealth sessions can “create flexibility” for families so that they can fit needed counseling services into their busy lives. As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Dr. Dominguez warns that cost, coverage, and the client’s location are the three biggest barriers for those seeking marriage-family services.  

Dr. Dominguez finishes the talk by describing the role that The American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) plays in the clinical community. AFTA is an organization of 400 professionals who seek to increase accessibility and equitability for family therapy practices all over the world. As an organization, AFTA offers member discounts to annual meetings, interest groups, committees, publication resources, a webinar series, and a dedicated member-therapist profile where providers can list their clinical specialties and client services.

Dr. Janessa Dominguez is the founder and CEO of Shaping Change, LLC. She is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®), LMFT, Qualified Behavior Analyst (QBA), and Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC). Dr. Dominguez is an American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) Clinical Fellow and serves on the Board of Directors and Leadership Team for the American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA).

By: Michael Tugendhat