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The Art of Self-Regulation: Mastering Your Inner World with ABA Therapy

Jovan here! It is Mental Health Awareness Month and I spent time reflecting on my role as a behavior analyst for children with ASD and other developmental diagnoses and their families, and as a trauma care professional that utilizes ABA to assist people who have experienced a traumatic event. I am often asked how these two roles connect and what better time to jump into this topic than Mental Health Awareness Month. The truth is, I apply the principles of ABA in every aspect of my interactions with my clients, their families, our CBH team, and even my own family. What I have learned is self-regulation and flexibility are tough for us! Yes, us, that means me, too. So I wanted to dive into this topic and discuss its importance while showing how effective ABA therapy can be in helping us hone this skill.

In our fast-paced, ever-changing world, the ability to self-regulate has become more crucial than ever. Self-regulation, the skill of managing one's emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in various situations, is not just a psychological buzzword but a foundational tool for achieving personal and even professional success. It's about having the inner resources to stay focused amid distractions, to remain calm under pressure, and to keep moving towards long-term goals despite short-term temptations.

Self-regulation involves a deep understanding of oneself. It begins with self-awareness, recognizing your feelings and the triggers (i.e., setting events and antecedents) that might derail your balance. This awareness is the first step towards developing strategies to stay in control. For instance, if you know that deadlines make you anxious, planning your tasks well in advance can be a way to mitigate stress (i.e., manipulating the antecedent to produce the more effective replacement behavior and reduce the likelihood of the challenging, impeding behavior). Similarly, recognizing that certain environments or social situations trigger negative emotions (i.e., triggers=antecedents, and these antecedents are stimuli that can be people, places, conditions, things, etc.) can empower you to make changes to your surroundings or approach to minimize their impact (i.e., replacement behaviors and skills that help us to learn flexibility).

Developing self-regulation skills also means building resilience and flexibility (!!!). Life will inevitably throw challenges our way—unexpected changes, disappointments, and failures. However, by practicing self-regulation, we can learn to navigate these with grace (and flexibility!). This might mean adapting your strategies, seeking support when needed, or simply giving yourself (and your child) a break. Techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and deep-breathing exercises can enhance your ability to remain calm and collected. Setting clear goals and breaking them down into manageable steps (an important component of ABA treatment) can help maintain focus and motivation, while regular reflection on your progress and setbacks can provide valuable insights for future growth (analysis of behavior anyone!).

In conclusion, mastering self-regulation is akin to steering your own ship in the ocean of life. It's about being at the helm, aware of the currents and winds, and having the skill to navigate through them. As we cultivate this invaluable skill, we not only enhance our personal well-being but also our relationships and professional lives. The journey to self-regulation is ongoing, a continuous process of learning and growth. Embrace it with patience (change can be challenging and takes time, give yourself and your child grace) and persistence, and the rewards will be profound and lasting.

Love yourself

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