Behavioral Skills Training (BST) in ABA Therapy

Behavioral Skills Training (BST) is a teaching methodology used in ABA therapy to teach new skills and behaviors to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.

reuben kesherim
Ruben Kesherim
January 26, 2024

Behavioral Skills Training (BST) in ABA Therapy

Understanding Behavioral Skills Training (BST)

In the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, Behavioral Skills Training (BST) plays a significant role in promoting the development of essential skills in individuals. By understanding the fundamentals of BST, parents can gain insights into its importance in ABA therapy.

What is Behavioral Skills Training?

Behavioral Skills Training (BST) is a structured and evidence-based teaching method used in ABA therapy to teach individuals a wide range of skills. It consists of several components that work together to facilitate skill acquisition and generalization. These components include instruction, modeling, role-playing, and feedback.

BST begins with clear and concise instruction, where the desired skill is broken down into smaller, manageable steps. This step-by-step approach allows individuals to understand and practice each component of the skill before progressing further.

After instruction, modeling is used to demonstrate the correct execution of the skill. Role-playing provides an opportunity for individuals to practice the skill in simulated or real-life situations. Finally, feedback is given to reinforce correct responses and provide guidance for improvement.

man teaching woman while pointing on gray laptop

The Importance of Behavioral Skills Training in ABA Therapy

Behavioral Skills Training is a fundamental component of ABA therapy. It offers numerous benefits and plays a crucial role in helping individuals develop essential skills.

One of the key advantages of BST is its effectiveness in promoting skill acquisition and generalization. By breaking down skills into smaller, manageable steps and providing opportunities for practice and reinforcement, BST helps individuals not only learn new skills but also apply them in various settings and situations.

This generalization of skills allows individuals to transfer what they have learned to different contexts, increasing the likelihood of independent and successful functioning.

Another significant benefit of BST is the increased independence and confidence it fosters in individuals. Through the structured teaching methods and systematic reinforcement, individuals gain the necessary skills to perform tasks and activities independently. This sense of accomplishment and self-reliance boosts their confidence, leading to improved self-esteem and overall well-being.

Furthermore, BST contributes to the development of social and communication skills. By incorporating role-playing and feedback, individuals have the opportunity to practice and refine their social interactions, such as turn-taking, active listening, and appropriate communication. These skills are essential for building and maintaining relationships, both in personal and professional settings.

In summary, Behavioral Skills Training (BST) is a vital component of ABA therapy that utilizes effective teaching methods to facilitate skill development and generalization.

By breaking down skills into manageable steps, providing modeling and role-playing opportunities, and offering constructive feedback, BST promotes skill acquisition, increases independence and confidence, and enhances social and communication skills. Understanding the importance of BST empowers parents to actively support their child's progress and collaborate effectively with ABA therapists.

Effective Teaching Methods in Behavioral Skills Training

When it comes to Behavioral Skills Training (BST), utilizing effective teaching methods is essential to facilitate skill acquisition and generalization. A variety of teaching techniques are employed to enhance the learning experience and promote positive behavioral changes. Let's explore some of these methods:


Modeling is a widely used teaching method in BST. It involves demonstrating the desired behavior or skill for the individual to observe and imitate. By providing a clear and accurate demonstration, the learner can gain a better understanding of how to perform the targeted behavior correctly.

During modeling, the instructor showcases the behavior step-by-step, highlighting the key components and demonstrating the correct responses. Visual aids, videos, or live demonstrations can be utilized to enhance the modeling process. This method allows the learner to observe the desired behavior in action and facilitates their ability to imitate and practice the skill.


Instruction is another crucial teaching method in BST. It involves providing clear and concise instructions to guide the learner in acquiring new behaviors or skills. Clear instructions help individuals understand the expectations and steps required to perform the desired behavior accurately.

When providing instructions, it is important to use simple and concrete language that is appropriate for the learner's developmental level. Breaking down complex tasks into smaller, manageable steps can aid comprehension and promote successful learning outcomes. Reinforcing the instructions through visual cues, such as written or pictorial prompts, can further enhance understanding.


Role-playing is a powerful teaching method in BST that allows individuals to practice and generalize targeted behaviors in simulated real-life situations. During role-playing, the learner assumes different roles and engages in interactive scenarios to practice the desired skills.

This method provides an opportunity for individuals to apply their newly acquired skills in a controlled environment. Role-playing helps individuals develop problem-solving abilities, improve social interactions, and enhance communication skills. Feedback and reinforcement during role-playing sessions can further reinforce the desired behaviors and enhance learning outcomes.

Feedback and Reinforcement

Providing feedback and reinforcement is a crucial component of effective behavioral skills teaching methods. Feedback helps individuals understand how well they are performing the targeted behavior and provides guidance for improvement. It can be in the form of praise, constructive criticism, or corrective guidance.

Reinforcement plays a vital role in motivating individuals to continue engaging in the desired behaviors. Positive reinforcement, such as verbal praise, rewards, or tokens, helps strengthen and maintain the targeted behaviors. Reinforcement can also be utilized to shape behaviors by providing rewards for incremental progress towards the desired behavior.

Using a combination of these teaching methods in BST can optimize the learning experience and promote positive behavioral changes. Modeling, instruction, role-playing, and feedback and reinforcement work together to facilitate skill acquisition, enhance generalization, and promote the development of independence and confidence in individuals undergoing BST.

Benefits of Effective Behavioral Skills Teaching Methods

Effective behavioral skills teaching methods in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy offer numerous benefits for individuals undergoing treatment. These methods facilitate skill acquisition and generalization, increase independence and confidence, and improve social and communication skills.

Skill Acquisition and Generalization

Behavioral skills teaching methods focus on systematically teaching and reinforcing desired behaviors. Through modeling, instruction, role-playing, and feedback, individuals learn new skills and behaviors that are essential for their development and everyday functioning.

One of the key benefits of these teaching methods is the acquisition of skills. By breaking down complex skills into smaller, manageable steps, individuals can learn and master each component gradually. This systematic approach enhances their ability to acquire and retain new skills, enabling them to reach their full potential.

Furthermore, effective behavioral skills training promotes generalization. Generalization refers to the ability to apply learned skills in various settings and situations. By providing opportunities for practice and reinforcement in different contexts, individuals can transfer their skills from therapy sessions to real-life scenarios. This generalization of skills enhances their independence and functional abilities.

Increased Independence and Confidence

Behavioral skills teaching methods empower individuals to become more independent in their daily lives. By teaching essential life skills, such as self-care, communication, and problem-solving, individuals gain the necessary tools to navigate various situations with confidence.

As individuals acquire and generalize these skills, they become less reliant on others for assistance. This increased independence fosters a sense of self-reliance and self-determination, allowing individuals to actively participate in their communities and pursue their goals.

Moreover, as individuals experience success in acquiring new skills, their confidence grows. The reinforcement and positive feedback received during the teaching process serve as a powerful motivator, instilling a belief in one's ability to learn and overcome challenges. This confidence extends beyond the specific skills being taught and can positively impact various aspects of an individual's life.

Improved Social and Communication Skills

Effective behavioral skills teaching methods also contribute to the development of social and communication skills. Through role-playing and practice, individuals learn appropriate social behaviors, such as turn-taking, sharing, and expressing empathy. They also acquire communication skills, including verbal and nonverbal communication, active listening, and expressive language.

By focusing on these fundamental skills, individuals can enhance their ability to interact and engage with others effectively. Improved social and communication skills enable individuals to build and maintain relationships, collaborate with peers, and navigate social environments with greater ease.

These skills are vital for personal and professional success, as they lay the foundation for effective communication and social interaction throughout life.

The benefits of effective behavioral skills teaching methods extend beyond the therapy setting, supporting individuals in their personal growth, independence, and social integration. By utilizing these methods, individuals can acquire new skills, increase their confidence, and improve their overall quality of life.

Implementing Behavioral Skills Training at Home

When it comes to implementing behavioral skills training (BST) at home, creating a structured environment, maintaining consistency and repetition, and collaborating with ABA therapists are key factors in promoting effective learning and skill development.

Creating a Structured Environment

Creating a structured environment at home provides a foundation for effective BST. A structured environment helps to establish clear expectations, routines, and boundaries, which are essential for promoting learning and reducing behavioral challenges. Here are some tips for creating a structured environment:

  • Establish a consistent daily schedule: Set regular times for activities such as meals, playtime, learning sessions, and rest.
  • Use visual supports: Visual schedules and cues can help your child understand and follow the daily routine.
  • Organize the learning space: Create a designated area for learning activities, free from distractions, and equipped with necessary materials.

A structured environment provides predictability and stability, which can enhance your child's engagement and participation in BST.

Consistency and Repetition

Consistency and repetition play a vital role in reinforcing learned skills and promoting generalization. By consistently practicing behavioral skills and providing ample opportunities for repetition, your child can strengthen and apply these skills across various settings and situations. Here's how you can incorporate consistency and repetition at home:

  • Use a consistent approach: Work with your ABA therapist to establish a consistent teaching approach that aligns with the strategies used during therapy sessions.
  • Practice skills regularly: Set aside dedicated practice time each day to reinforce the skills taught during therapy sessions.
  • Reinforce learned skills in everyday situations: Look for opportunities to reinforce and practice behavioral skills during daily activities and routines.

Consistency and repetition help consolidate your child's learning and maximize the effectiveness of BST.

Collaboration with ABA Therapists

Collaboration with ABA therapists is crucial for successful implementation of BST at home. ABA therapists have specialized knowledge and expertise in designing and implementing effective teaching strategies. Here's how you can collaborate with ABA therapists:

  • Maintain open communication: Regularly communicate with your child's ABA therapist to discuss progress, challenges, and strategies for implementing BST at home.
  • Follow therapy recommendations: Follow the recommendations provided by the ABA therapist regarding implementation of specific teaching methods and strategies.
  • Seek guidance and support: Reach out to the ABA therapist for guidance and support whenever needed.

Collaborating with ABA therapists ensures that you are aligned with the therapy goals and equipped with the necessary tools to support your child's progress.

By creating a structured environment, maintaining consistency and repetition, and collaborating with ABA therapists, you can effectively implement BST at home and provide a supportive learning environment for your child's development and growth.

Supporting Your Child's Progress

As a parent, you play a vital role in supporting your child's progress in behavioral skills training (BST). By providing encouragement, maintaining open communication with ABA therapists, and celebrating milestones, you can create a positive and nurturing environment for your child's development.

Encouragement and Positive Reinforcement

Encouragement and positive reinforcement are essential components in supporting your child's progress in BST. By acknowledging their efforts and achievements, you can motivate and boost their confidence. Here are some ways to provide encouragement and positive reinforcement:

  • Verbal praise: Offer specific and genuine praise when your child demonstrates the targeted behavioral skills. For example, you might say, "Great job sharing your toys with your sister, that was very kind of you!"
  • Rewards: Consider implementing a reward system to reinforce positive behaviors. This could involve earning stickers, tokens, or privileges for successfully practicing the skills taught in BST.

Communication with ABA Therapists

Maintaining open and effective communication with ABA therapists is crucial for supporting your child's progress. Regular discussions with the therapists can help you understand the specific goals and strategies being implemented in BST. Here are some tips for effective communication:

  • Share observations: Inform the ABA therapists about any changes or challenges you notice in your child's behavior outside of therapy sessions. This information can help them tailor the BST program accordingly.
  • Ask questions: Don't hesitate to ask questions or seek clarification about the techniques, goals, or progress of your child's therapy. This will help you stay informed and actively involved in your child's development.

Celebrating Milestones

Celebrating milestones, no matter how small, is an important way to recognize your child's progress in BST. It reinforces their accomplishments and encourages them to continue working towards their goals. Here are some ideas for celebrating milestones:

  • Family celebrations: Plan a special family activity or outing to commemorate your child's achievements. It could be a trip to their favorite park, a movie night, or a family game night.
  • Visual progress chart: Create a visual progress chart to track your child's milestones. Each time they achieve a goal or master a skill, mark it on the chart. This visual representation can be motivating and serve as a reminder of their progress.

By providing encouragement, maintaining communication with ABA therapists, and celebrating milestones, you can create a supportive environment that enhances your child's progress in BST. Remember, your involvement and support are invaluable in helping your child develop and generalize the behavioral skills they are learning.


In conclusion, Behavioral Skills Training (BST) is a powerful tool used by ABA therapists to teach new skills and behaviors to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. The four-step process used in BST is evidence-based and highly individualized, making it a highly effective teaching methodology. By using BST in ABA therapy, individuals can learn new skills and behaviors and improve their overall quality of life.