Association for Behavior Analysis Right to Effective Behavioral Treatment Statement

The Association for Behavior Analysis (ABA) "Right to Effective Behavioral Treatment" statement was adopted by the Association for Behavior Analysis and published in 1988. It reflected behavior analysts' belief that people with disabilities that compromise their ability to live independently have a right to effective, empirically validated treatments delivered by competent practitioners. The version below is a summary. The original was published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and is available free online.


Full reference:


Van Houten, R. Axelrod, S. Bailey, J. S. Favell, J. E. Foxx, R. M. Iwata, B. A. & Lovaas, O. I. (1988). The right to effective behavioral treatment. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 21, 381-384.

Seven Principles of the Right to Effective Behavioral Treatment

An Individual Has a Right to a Therapeutic Environment


A physical and social environment that is safe, humane, and responsive to individual needs is a necessary prerequisite for effective treatment...a therapeutic environment imposes the fewest restrictions necessary, while insuring individual safety and development. Freedom of individual movement and access to preferred activities, rather than type or location of placement, are the defining characteristics of a least restrictive environment.


An Individual Has a Right to Services Whose Overriding Goal is Personal Welfare


The primary purpose of behavioral treatment is to assist individuals in acquiring functional skills that promote independence. Both the immediate and long-term welfare of an individual are taken into account through active participation by the client or an authorized proxy in making treatment-related decisions.


An Individual Has a Right to Treatment by a Competent Behavior Analyst


Professionals responsible for delivering, directing or evaluating the effects of behavioral treatment possess appropriate education and experience. The behavior analyst's academic training reflects thorough knowledge of behavioral principles, methods of assessment and treatment, research methodology, and professional ethics.


An Individual Has a Right to Programs That Teach Functional Skills


The ultimate goal of all services is to increase the ability of individuals to function effectively in both their immediate environment and the larger society.


An Individual Has a Right to Behavioral Assessment and Ongoing Evaluation


Prior to the onset of treatment, individuals are entitled to a complete diagnostic evaluation to identify factors that contribute to the presence of a skill deficit or a behavioral disorder. A complete and functional analysis emphasizes the importance of events that are antecedent, as well as consequent, to the behavior of interest. For example, identification of preexisting physiological or environmental determinants may lead to the development of a treatment program that does not require extensive use of behavioral contingencies.


An Individual Has a Right to the Most Effective Treatment Procedures Available


An individual is entitled to effective and scientifically validated treatment. In turn, behavior analysts have an obligation to use only those techniques that have been demonstrated by researchers to be effective, to acquaint consumers and the public with the advantages and disadvantages of these techniques, and to search continuously for the most optimal means of changing behavior.

Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan, Department of Psychology, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 48197