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Ethical Decision Making: Navigating Complex Challenges in Behavior Analytic Work

Mary Jane Weiss
Ethical conduct is a crucial issue for practitioners of ABA, and is an exceedingly complicated skill set. Instructors and supervisors seek to prepare trainees for the circumstances they are likely to encounter, and hope to impart an adequate skill set to navigate such challenges. In this presentation, the essential components that comprise this skill set will be reviewed. In particular, the following subskills will be highlighted: utilizing core principles, signal detection, ethical decision making, the use of ethical decision making tools, and the analysis of contextual variables. Special attention will be given to the relevance of models from other disciplines, effective instructional methods, and generalization to real-world challenges.

Presented at the 2022 Michigan Autism Conference

Mary Jane Weiss, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LABA is the Associate Dean of Applied Behavior Analysis and Director of the Ph.D. Program in ABA at Endicott College, where she has been for 11 years. She also works with the research and training teams at Melmark. She has worked in the field of ABA and Autism for over 35 years. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers University in 1990 and she became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2000. She previously worked for 16 years at the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center at Rutgers University. Her clinical and research interests center on defining best practice ABA techniques, integrating compassionate care and cultural responsiveness into ABA service delivery, exploring ways to enhance the ethical conduct of practitioners, training staff to be optimally effective at instruction and at collaboration, and maximizing family members’ expertise and adaptation. She serves on the Scientific Council of the Organization for Autism Research, is on the board of Association for Science in Autism Treatment, is a regular contributor to the ABA Ethics Hotline, is on the editorial board of Behavior Analysis in practice, and is an advisor to the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.
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