3 Questions to ask yourself when evaluating social validity in treatment outcomes - Cultivate Behavioral Health & Education - ABA Therapy

Do you ever wonder if what you’re doing matters much? If you’re an RBT or a BCBA, you likely know how important it is to ensure that your programming is relevant and has social validity, especially when you’re serving kiddos with autism who really need strategic plans in place. According to Montrose Wolf (1978), social validity in behavior analysis can be evaluated in 3 ways:

  • The social significance of the target behavior
  • The appropriateness of the procedures
  • The social importance of the results

Social Validity Action Questions

As you consider this, let’s take the recommendations and phrase them into action questions that we can ask ourselves. 

  1. Does this behavior matter? In all honesty, I’ve SEEN so much irrelevant work as a BCBA. Like working on preschool matching cards with a teen that has no independent living skills, or drilling 3 year-olds on reading. 
  2. Are my procedures appropriate, and socially acceptable? I like to look at it like this, is a parent readily able to implement the procedure? If not, you’ll likely not have much social validity. That’s where the BEST BCBAs thrive. They know how to package strategies in such a way that parents and practitioners are readily able to implement. 
  3. If I achieve the outcome or the result, did it matter? Did it make ones’ quality of life better? Take my example above. Is the teen’s life better because she knows how to match preschool matching cards? Likely no. Could her life be better if we taught her how to safely cross the street to get to her FAV place, Target? Yes! Focus on what matters most and leave the rest aside. 

Serving kiddos with autism means that we have to maximize every opportunity. Wandering in the wilderness of irrelevant skills is not advisable. Have a plan. Know why that plan is in place. Question what you’re working on. It’s okay to be unsettled about it. You should be. We want you to know why you’re doing what you’re doing, and how that brings value to your clients and their parents. Socially valid outcomes are not accidental. They’re planned, by strategic clinicians, that know what they’re doing.

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