Improve Quality of Life

The ultimate goal of applied behavior analysis is to improve the quality of life and overall well-being of the clients that are receiving services. With this end in mind, there are a variety of methods that can be utilized to help you work toward this objective.

ABA is a fairly new field compared to other areas of the service industry such as education or psychology. Within ABA, there are specific principles and strategies that can be used to help a client improve their well-being and reach personal goals.

Strengths over Weaknesses

Although it is common and often necessary to focus on maladaptive behaviors and to address what is “going wrong” with the client, it is important to take a strengths-based approach as much as possible.

Working with clients with a strengths-based perspective can help them to become happier and to help them experience greater wellness overall.

Methods of Identifying Strengths

To identify strengths of a client, you may complete interviews with the client to ask them what they think their strengths are. You may also consider interviewing their caregiver or parent, their teacher, or other people who are regularly in the client’s life.

You might also consider identifying strengths through the use of surveys or assessment tools. For example, you can find a strengths survey for children and a strengths survey for adults online. These could give you an idea of what strengths you can focus on throughout intervention with your clients.

Reinforce the Client’s Use of Strengths-Related Behaviors

When focusing on strengths with your clients, help support and reinforce the client engaging in activities that are based on their top strengths often throughout their day to day life. This is likely to increase happiness and life satisfaction (Proyer, et. al., 2015).

You can help a child to use their strengths to cope with and better manage their weaker areas, as well.

Benefits of Focusing on Strengths

By incorporating a strengths-based approach to intervention with youth, you may help that child to experience greater self-confidence and self-efficacy. You may also increase their motivation and coping behaviors which can help the child to be more engaged in treatment as well as help them to generalize positive behaviors in other areas of life.

One way that strengths can be used to help youth with disabilities or chronic illness (as well as with youth who do not have a disability or illness) is to encourage and teach the youth to use their strengths as coping strategies for problematic or challenging experiences.

  • For instance, if one of a child’s strengths is leadership, how can the child use her leadership skills to handle a conflict with friends or to manage a situation in which they are having trouble in school?
  • Another example…A child who has a strength of independence can also use their strength as a coping skill. When this child encounters a stressful situation, such as a difficult homework assignment or a peer at school saying something mean, the child can utilize behaviors related to being independent to help them handle the situations effectively.

Regardless of what strengths a child has, ABA practitioners can help to reinforce these types of skills and behaviors potentially by helping the child to develop alternative behaviors to less adaptive behaviors. Their strengths can be included in the identification and development of alternative, adaptive behaviors (Tobak, et. al., 2016).

By reinforcing the use of strengths-related behaviors in your clients, you can increase the client’s happiness and well-being while also helping them to accomplish certain treatment goals.


Proyer, R. T., Gander, F., Wellenzohn, S., & Ruch, W. (2015). Strengths-based positive psychology interventions: a randomized placebo-controlled online trial on long-term effects for a signature strengths- vs. a lesser strengths-intervention. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 456. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00456

Toback, R. L., Graham-Bermann, S. A., & Patel, P. D. (2016). Outcomes of a character strengthsbased intervention on self-esteem and self-efficacy of psychiatrically hospitalized youths. Psychiatric Services, 67(5), 574-577