Heart-Centered ABA aspires to become a new branch of behavior science based on the heart. It synthesizes conventional Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) with complimentary tools and frames from ABA Compassionate Care, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Hypnotherapy, Waldorf Education, and wisdom from the indigenous ways of North America with the wisdom that has always lived inside my heart. Heart-centered ABA is a science of human behavior which branches off of conventional Applied Behavior Analysis.
A Short History of ABA
American psychologist B.F. Skinner is widely accepted as the father of behavioral science. His studies of learning and contingencies of human behavior were groundbreaking. He demonstrated that there are laws that govern human behavior similar to the laws which govern our physical world. He demonstrated that behavior which is reinforced will continue and behavior that is not reinforced will stop. He noticed the effects of antecedents on behavior and developed the three-term contingency (often known as the ABCs of behavior) antecedent, behavior, and consequence. This three-term contingency governs all behavior. It shows how behavior arises from the things which happen before the behavior and the future likelihood of behavior is a result of the consequences of the behavior.
All behavior seeks to fulfill a certain function. The basic functions of behavior are attention seeking, escape, a tangible reinforcer, or they are automatically reinforcing (such as scratching an itch). Behavioral science became applied when the science moved out of the laboratory and began to work in settings such as homes, schools, and workplaces. This applied behavior science becomes a foundation for creating positive behavioral change across various environments. One of the best impacted areas of ABA is the work with children and adults with autism and developmental disabilities. There are many great changes ABA has contributed by helping the lives of families and their people with disabilities.
Bringing Heart-Centeredness into ABA
In Heart-Centered ABA (HCABA), we bring focus to empathy and unconditional love. Empathy gives us insight and understanding as to what it is like to be in the shoes of the ones we are working with. ABA is often traditionally used in settings with neuro-atypical individuals experiencing developmental disabilities. Stepping into their shoes may be far off the beaten path of what the average human being experiences and is naturally outside what we have empathy for in our daily lives.
Similar to the key element of empathy, unconditional love is the basis for feeling when nothing is in the way of our connection. Unconditional love takes the work of humanistic psychology around unconditional positive regard a little deeper. The humanists found we could have unconditional positive regard for any person no matter what behaviors they were embodying. Unconditional love rests on the work of psychologist Carl Rogers and all the other humanists. We love the potential in the heart of the other person no matter what behaviors they are currently embodying. We love and nurture their potential with everything we do.
We accept and love the individuals as they are, while we attempt to modify their maladaptive behaviors such as physical aggression, angry outbursts, or spirals of negative thinking which affect daily functions. We use empathy as a way to connect more fully with the person we are working with, so we understand what it is like to be them from the inside out.
Heart-Centered ABA focuses on measuring elements which are typically thought to be unmeasurable, such as empathy and heart-centeredness, to help affect change in these qualitative attributes. We use directly and clearly observable external behaviors, as well as taking into account much more subtle behaviors. To measure empathy we can measure the language a person uses, their tone of voice and body posture, as well as the general feeling you get from talking to this person. The Heart-Centering Scale is a good example of the ways in which we use measurement to help people more deeply into their heart. There is a subjectivity in these measures. However, when they are widely understood, I believe these measures will serve to help us make significant changes in our own lives and the lives of all those we come in contact with.
A Newly Forming Technology
I’ve always been drawn to difficult cases. I remember my first really challenging camper Zack, who taught me so much about how to shape human behavior. Later I evolved this into teaching as my student Karl showed me many of the areas in which I lacked patience and empathy. When I started working with the autistic and developmentally disabled population, my difficult clients continued to show me ways to reach people. At first I was just focused on the individual applications of this work to my clients. This approach naturally synthesized within me on how I run the company as a whole.
While I’ve been applying these principles and practices for over 20 years, I have not yet codified this science, structured it, and verified it scientifically. Heart-Centered Revolutions is a nonprofit dedicated to making a world that works for everyone. The science and technology behind this vision is Heart-Centered ABA. When we are able to demonstrate the changes we can make in human consciousness and human behavior through this technology, I believe we will be able to make a significant contribution to humanity.
Our hope is to attract donors to fund this newly forming science. We want to attract like minded individuals who believe in the potential of the human heart and what is possible when Heart-Centered ABA is more fully developed. As we codify this science of the heart, and attract practitioners who are already practicing with these tools and frames, we can create a powerful base to launch a technology that can change the way humans relate with each other on planet earth. Our goal is to raise $500,000 this year to fully codify the tenets of this science and create experiments to measure, verify, and replicate what we have found to be effective at Bridging Worlds Behavioral Services, the company I founded using Heart-Centered ABA.
I believe we have discovered the answer to a key question which has plagued human beings since the beginning of time. This question articulates itself in many ways. I first asked it as: why is there war in humanity? I now articulate it as: how do we end human cruelty? I believe this science and technology has the potential to end human cruelty in any of those who embrace it. The practices of empathy and unconditional love, when exercised enough, stop us from creating unnecessary suffering for ourselves and each other. When the true heart-centered way of being reigns supreme on planet earth, we will have the dawning of a new age in humanity. One where humanity is restored to our connection with nature and the goodness I believe we are capable of embodying as a species.
Join the Revolution
To join Heart-Centered Revolutions and make a world that works for everyone, sign up for our mailing list. This act places you firmly at the center of our communication channels. By far, the best way to join this revolution, though, is to practice opening your heart and truly coming from empathy and unconditional love for yourself and everyone around you.
For more on how to bring heart-centered principles into your everyday life, we have a collection of books covering an assortment of topics. You can also continue your exploration of heart-centered principles by reading the articles on our blog. We also offer business consulting and personal and parenting coaching.
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