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The Right to Effective Treatment and Skinner’s “The Ethics of Helping People”

1 hours, 26 minutes
1.5 BACB

“Really what we’re looking at here is trying to apply our science in the most ethical way possible.”

Bobby Newman PhD, BCBA-D, LBA 


In 1976, B.F. Skinner published an underappreciated article in The Humanist entitled The Ethics of Helping People.  Within that article, Skinner outlined the general ethical stance of behavior analysts regarding “taking care” of a person versus working toward independence and autonomy.  Some 12 years later, the seminal paper The Right to Effective Treatment was published, updating and expanding many of the same ideas. The ideas of these two papers predated and laid the groundwork for our current practice as clinical behavior analysts today. 

Learning Objectives

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

  1. Describe the difference between taking care of an individual’s physical needs and helping an individual develop autonomy 

  1. Describe what a truly therapeutic environment consists of, based on the source material 

  1. Describe why doing something for someone may actually harm them—behaviorally speaking—with particular attention to extinction and learned helplessness 


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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