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Relational Frame Theory and Behavioral Flexibility Training

1 hours, 49 minutes
2.0 BACB

“It’s very unclear when we get to complex human utterances just how to pragmatically evaluate the functions of the utterance and, more importantly, how to teach such complex repertoires to new learners.”

Thomas Szabo, PhD, BCBA-D


If you have ever worked with vocal-verbal humans, it would be no surprise to hear the differences in complexity between two speakers. B.F. Skinner developed and produced Verbal Behavior attempting to provide a thorough functional account of language that has proved to be imperative in teaching basic verbal operants. However, refinements for more complex behavior may be useful. Dr. Thomas Szabo summarizes the history of verbal operants and shows how they can be misconstrued. While outlining several aspects of verbal behavior related to relational frame theory (RFT), including stimulus equivalence and rule governance, he delves into the framework of RFT and how it can expand on Skinner’s work to be used more effectively in building complex verbal repertoires in a multitude of populations. Dr. Szabo provides details on the application of behavioral flexibility training (BFT) within the autism population and how it relates to RFT, describing research being conducted and how to apply it to clinical work in teaching, building, and maintaining flexibility from more rigid patterns of behavior.

Learning Objectives

What you’ll learn in the course and be able to do afterward

  1. Given a review of Skinner’s conceptualization of verbal behavior, you’ll be able to
    • re-examine strengths of Skinner’s argument;
    • develop and recommend refinements to improve upon Skinner’s argument.
  2. Behaviorally speaking, you’ll take an overview of verbal behavior research and be able to
    • discuss real-world examples of the transformation of stimulus function, including conceptual and pragmatic issues
    • compare and contrast contingency-shaped behavior with rule-governed behavior;
      • define and discuss equivalence as a phenomenon that poses challenges to operant theory.
  3. After an overview of research that led to the development of Relational Frame Theory (RFT) and Behavioral Flexibility Training (BFT), you will be able to 
    • define RFT & BFT;
    • identify applied RFT strategies to improve relational repertoires;
    • list the relational repertoires most critical to behavioral flexibility;
    • identify BFT strategies to improve relational flexibility;
    • analyze results from recent BFT studies.


This course is delivered through Florida Tech. Clicking "Enroll Now" will take you to Florida Tech’s website where you can Add to CartCheckout, and complete the course. Come back to our website for podcasts, blogs, courses, and content.


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