Barriers to Accessing Effective Treatments for Destructive Behavior

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1 Scopus citations


The field of applied behavior analysis has developed and refined a comprehensive methodology for the assessment and successful treatment of destructive behavior. This individualized approach emphasizes (a) function of responding (or its cause) over its form; (b) objective and reliable measurement of behavior; (c) systematic procedures and their application; (d) rigorous, single-case experimental designs; and (e) determinations of successful intervention judged by improvements in the same individual's performance. Outcomes of this approach are often dramatic and reliably surpass those obtained by alternative means. However, significant barriers limit the accessibility of this proven therapy. Too few intensive behavioral intervention units, diagnosis- and age-dependent insurance authorization and reimbursement practices, long waitlists and slow approval processes, and the possibility of treatment relapse represent a few such barriers. This article describes these barriers and suggests some potential solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-74
Number of pages7
JournalPolicy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • applied behavior analysis
  • destructive behavior
  • function-based treatment
  • intensive behavioral intervention units
  • reducing barriers to care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Administration


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