What Is a Behavior Intervention Plan, and Why Is It Important in ABA Therapy?

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ABA therapist works with a child who has been disruptive.

An educator encounters a child who is unable to focus, hands in incomplete work, and creates general discord with other classmates. Frequently, the most intrusive behaviors result in the child getting in trouble. But when a child’s actions start to disrupt the classroom, educators may find it beneficial to establish a behavior intervention plan (BIP) for the student. What is a behavior intervention plan? The BIP formalizes an effort among parents, applied behavior analysts, teachers, and other school educators to collaborate on finding solutions to improve a student’s behavior.

Behavior Intervention Plan Defined

A BIP is a formal program that aims to stop inappropriate behavior and establishes appropriate alternative behavior to replace the inappropriate behavior. It is part of an applied behavior analyst’s therapeutic strategies to identify scenarios causing disruptive behaviors.

Whether one page or multiple pages, the BIP identifies and describes the problem behavior. It provides insight as to why the behavior happens. It also includes details on strategies, tools, and support systems that aim to teach alternative behaviors. Other considerations in the plan include instructional and environmental causes of behavior.

What Goes Into the Creation of a BIP?

In creating a BIP, there is an analysis and identification of the causes that drive negative behaviors. It includes proactive involvement from multiple school members, including an applied behavior analyst. As part of the process, known as a behavior assessment, the child, teachers, and other school staff participate in interviews. The behavior assessment team acquires data from these observations and combines it with additional information, such as test results and grades. Nonacademic factors are also considered, for example, assessing the child’s life outside the classroom. The child’s parents typically are an active team member in determining what the BIP will look like and receives updates during this process to keep them informed and to get their consent for future special services.

The process is necessary for shaping the child’s individualized BIP. An ABA therapy-driven BIP may also fit in the context of other education-driven assessment tools, such as an individual education program (IEP). An IEP is a free service in public schools that helps children who are demonstrating concerning behaviors, as well as children with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, autism, and more, overcome their challenges.

Parents, as part of IEP teams, can request reevaluations of their children if the IEP in place is not delivering improvements over the long term. An applied behavior analyst who represents the IEP team may recommend a functional behavioral assessment (FBA). An FBA can be used if specific criteria are met. For example, a child removed from their learning environments for more than 10 days in a row qualifies for an FBA according to federal law. Using the data obtained in the FBA process, ABA therapists and educators develop or modify a BIP, highlighting target behaviors and behavioral goals.

An Applied Behavior Analyst’s Role in Developing BIPs

ABA therapists in schools work with educators and other school professionals. Applied behavior analysts walk functional assessment teams, made up of teachers, counselors, school administrators, and parents, through the FBA creation process. Uniquely trained to address behavioral issues in children, applied behavior analysts provide educators with guidance on how to build FBAs through the use of ABA strategies to determine the causes of inappropriate behavior.

In the preliminary stages, when applied behavior analysts work together with educators to define the behavior in question, it is crucial to be specific in determining the action of the child. Witnesses to the action must identify the behavior in precise, observable, measurable terms. Instead of saying that a child is laying hands on someone else, explain what the child is doing: grabbing, pulling, hitting, or slapping. The more precise the definition, the easier it is to pinpoint the behavior when it occurs. Parents and guardians also participate during these stages as their experience with the behavior may offer additional insights.

Although educators sometimes address negative behaviors in the classroom without recording them, data collection is critical to an effective assessment process. The ABA therapist should work with educators to collect, compare, and analyze information from various sources, such as interviews and grades. Additionally, applied behavior analysts can use ABA tools and techniques to provide additional context about the behavior and gather relevant data. A standard ABA tool is Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence (A-B-C) data sheets that a teacher, parent, or guardian typically complete. From the tool, applied behavior analysts gather data about the events or activities that happened before the manifestation of the behavior, known as an antecedent. They also get insights as to actions that occurred right after the act, known as consequences.

Additional steps of the assessment process focus on forming a hypothesis explaining the reasons for the behavior and developing a plan to address it. In these steps, ABA therapists provide educators with guidance on how to meet the student’s needs. And ABA therapists often work directly with students in face-to-face sessions, as well as in group therapy sessions.

How Regis College Prepares Students to Help Build BIPs

Every day, teachers have lesson plans to prepare, exams to score, and grades to give, but most importantly, teachers are focused on creating ideal learning environments for their students. When a student demonstrates troubling behaviors that make it difficult for other students to learn and that also impact the student’s success, educators must take necessary steps to address the challenge. However, implementing a BIP can be difficult for educators, especially as there is typically lots of paperwork and planning involved.

Administering successful ABA therapy to improve student behavior requires patience and active participation from teachers, parents, caregivers, and others. Regis College’s online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program curriculum can help students gain the competencies and confidence to apply ABA techniques that deliver positive outcomes for struggling students and their families and teachers. Courses such as Behavior Assessment and Behavior Intervention, as well as opportunities to gain practical experience through practicums, can help students to launch their careers or advance in the field of applied behavior analysis.

Meet the Educational Challenge

The online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program at Regis College prepares graduates with comprehensive ABA knowledge and leadership skills to help guide the creation of BIPs in schools and other educational settings. Students from various health backgrounds can enroll in the program, which combines research, hands-on experience, and coursework to teach competencies in behavior assessment and behavior intervention tools. Learn more about the online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis at Regis College today.

Recommended Readings

Exploring ABA Techniques and Their Role in Treatment

How to Encourage Positive Behavior in Developing Children

How ABA Interventions Promote Positive Behavior


Autism Parenting Magazine, Autism and Behavior Intervention Plans: What You Need to Know Now

KidsHealth, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)

Pacer Center, What Is a Functional Behavioral Assessment and How Is It Used? An Overview for Parents

Positive Environments, Network of Trainers, Behavior Intervention Plans

Regis College, Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis

Understood, “Behavior Intervention Plans: What You Need to Know

Understood, “Functional Assessment: What It Is and How It Works”