ABA 101: Pairing With Your Client

June 11, 2018 - Jayd Lucco

ABA 101: Pairing With Your Client

The pairing process is essential in developing a fun, working relationship with our clients! The purpose of pairing is to establish yourself as the ultimate reinforcer — the giver of all good things. To establish this rapport, there are two key rules to follow: provide reinforcement and limit demands.

To provide reinforcement to the client, the therapist should follow their motivation. Be the one to give them the things they love! Become involved in your client’s enjoyment of these items. You can narrate their play, make silly noises, and/or play side-by-side. Remember, the goal is for this activity to be even more fun with you involved. For example, if a client is playing with cars and chooses a red car, you could enthusiastically say, “A red car! What a fun choice!” Then, proceed to choose your own car and play alongside them. You could make different car noises (honks, beeps, engines revving) as you play, or describe what they’re doing (for example, “Your car is going so fast!”).

Next, when pairing, place as few demands as possible. This includes straight-forward demands such as “Walk with me” or “Stop”. It is also important to avoid inadvertent demands, such as “Watch this” or “Look at me” within your pairing process. You should be following your client’s motivation rather than them following your directions. Do what they want to do! Make it all about them! Once you are paired, demands can be slowly introduced.

But, how do you know that you are paired? Here are a few key ways to tell that you are paired with your client.

  • Increase in attending
  • Decrease in maladaptive behaviors
  • Follows you vs. you following them
  • Compliance with simple demands as they are introduced

Once you have established that you are paired with your client, the fun does not stop! The pairing process never ends. To preserve the reputation that you have gained with your client, continue to pair within all of your sessions. This will help to uphold the working relationship that you have built and lets you maintain your status as the ultimate reinforcer!

Here are few tips and tricks to remember while pairing:

  • Follow the client’s motivation
  • Show them new items/ways to play
  • Have items they enjoy with you
  • Engage with the client and activity
  • Limit demands
  • Have fun!

To learn more about the pairing process and how we build rapport with our clients, click here to watch our training video.

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June 11, 2018, Jayd Lucco

One thought on “ABA 101: Pairing With Your Client”

  1. The errorless learning process and it’s methods like “pairing” seems to be a more intuitive and natural method . I have found myself naturally doing this with children, to be engaged and actually play with them and put myself in their shoes while being unconditional with them, constantly reinforcing them positively so that they trust me and love me and feel protected and desire to do the tasks at hand..

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