Collecting information on the target behavior (what we want to change) is an essential part of the assessment and intervention process.
Measuring behavior is important, because it allows therapists to:
- determine if behavioral services are essential.
- identify which challenging behavior should be targeted first.
- identify which environmental events influence target behaviors.
- choose the best interventions.
- determine if interventions are successful.
- verify interventions as “evidence-based”
A behavior analyst meets a caregiver for the first time. The caregiver tells the behavior analyst that her mother engages in several challenging behaviors and does not know which is worse — her mother’s aggression or her mother’s crying. The behavior analyst asks the caregiver to collect information on how frequently each of these behavior occur for two weeks.
The behavior analyst discovers that aggression occurred once a day, while crying occurred once a week. After more assessment, the behavior analyst developed an intervention plan for aggression and asked the caregiver to continue collecting information on the frequency of challenging behaviors while implementing the intervention plan.
By collecting data on aggression and crying for two weeks, the caregiver helped the therapist determine which behavior to focus on first — aggression because it occurred more frequently. By collecting data while implementing the intervention plan, the caregiver helped the therapist to determine if the behavior plan was successful — if aggression decreased from happening once a day. In addition, when we collect data to show that services changed behavior, we can verify that interventions were “evidence-based.”