The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 151–157 | Cite as

The Role of Shaping the Client’s Interpretations in Functional Analytic Psychotherapy

  • Paulo Roberto Abreu
  • Maria Martha Costa Hübner
  • Fernanda Lucchese


Clinical behavior analysis often targets the shaping of clients’ functional interpretations of/or rules about his own behavior. These are referred to as clinically relevant behavior 3 (CRB3) in functional analytic psychotherapy (FAP). We suggest that CRB3s should be seen as contingency-specifying stimuli (CSS), due to the their ability to change the function of stimuli—including descriptions of variables involved in the client’s behavioral problems as well as descriptions of variables associated with improvement or therapeutic change. This paper discusses the role of rule-governed behavior in FAP and the processes of shaping client interpretations of his or her behavior, and proposes that this may be an overlooked and important mechanism of change in FAP. To shape CRB3 in FAP, the therapist describes CSSs related to the therapy relationship that are consistent with the client’s social environment, and reinforces improvements of the client’s following his or her own newly shaped CSS descriptions during the session.

Key words

functional analytic psychotherapy rule-governed behavior contingency-specifying stimuli shaping 


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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paulo Roberto Abreu
    • 1
  • Maria Martha Costa Hübner
    • 1
  • Fernanda Lucchese
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Psicologia ExperimentalInstituto de Psicologia, Universidade de São Paulo - Av. Prof. Mello MoraesBrazil
  2. 2.University of MassachusettsBostonUSA

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