Understanding and Applying Relational Frame Theory
Mastering the Foundations of Complex Language in Our Work and Lives as Behavior Analysts
Published by: New Harbinger Publications
Imprint: Context Press
A comprehensive treatise on how to understand complex language, and use language effectively as a behavior analyst.
Language changes everything. From infancy through adulthood, language shapes how we live our lives and interact with other people, in increasingly complex ways. Language also shapes how we exist in the world as professionals—and how we operate as a profession. As behavior analysts working with others to effect change, words matter.
A comprehensive understanding of complex language is therefore critical to practicing effectively as a behavior analyst. Understanding the functions of complex language, allows us to skillfully use language as an intervention tool.
Relational frame theory (RFT) is a behavior analytic theory of human language. RFT suggests that the building block of human language and higher cognition is relating—in other words, the human ability to create links between one thing and another using words. Understanding and Applying Relational Frame Theory outlines the essential principles of RFT, and offers practical applications and tools to help clients live better lives and to establish the conditions necessary for all of us to thrive. With a central focus on establishing psychological flexibility, prosociality, and cooperative contexts for change, at all levels of analysis—from the self to overarching systems and cultures—in this book, you will:
- Learn the theoretical basis of RFT, including how relational operants are learned, from their roots in early social interactions to the complex relating of relations and relational networks seen in analogical and metaphorical reasoning.
- Explore how complex verbal repertoires affect individual behavior, introducing the development of the self and the influence of rule-governed behavior and private events.
- Examine relational framing in the context of groups—including the speaking and listening skills needed for supervision, mentorship, effective messaging, and prosociality within and between organizational systems.
- Discover the implications of applying a behavior analytic understanding of complex language to a variety of settings, including education, mental health, and business.
- Learn how RFT can be applied to issues of diversity and inclusion, and global sustainability.
Finally, you’ll find a thorough discussion of how behavior analysts can use the principles outlined in this book to extend the reach of the field into a range of socially significant and critical areas for behavior change.
“Words matter. The authors help us understand why and how language is important to human evolution. They do so by showing us the possibilities offered by relational frame theory (RFT). Ming, Gould, and Fiebig present clear conceptualizations and examples to illustrate the advantages of a functional and contextual approach to influencing the world around us. Above all, they teach us ways to accompany one another in the quest for collective well-being.”
—Shahla Alai-Rosales, associate professor at the University of North Texas, and coauthor of Responsible and Responsive Parenting in Autism and Building and Sustaining Meaningful Relationships ~Shahla Alai-Rosales
“Not only does this book explore the foundations of RFT that are relevant for those involved in applied behavior analysis (ABA) practice, but it explores and applies RFT to some of the most pressing priorities of our time like diversity, equity, inclusion, and sustainability. Desperately needed is a book that explains how scaled-up, cultural-level interventions can affect the future, with a focus on contextual analyses of language and cognition.”
—Ruth Anne Rehfeldt, coeditor of Derived Relational Responding and Applied Behavior Analyses of Language and Cognition, and fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis International and the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science ~Ruth Anne Rehfeldt
“This is a comprehensive and updated introduction to RFT, especially suitable for a reader who has a basic understanding of behavior analysis. In addition to this, it is also the first whole-book treatment on RFT which gives the concept of ‘hierarchical framing’ its proper place in understanding human behavior. It also shows how many commonsense phenomena—like cooperation, compassion, self-compassion, and curiosity—can be conceptualized from an RFT perspective. Excellent!”
—Niklas Törneke, MD, author of Learning RFT and Metaphor in Practice ~Niklas Törneke, MD
“Understanding and Applying Relational Frame Theory is a must-read. It presents readers with quality content in a very didactic format, with exercises that lead readers to a better understanding of the contents, while following their values. If you are interested in learning RFT, this is definitely a book I recommend.”
—Táhcita Mizael, PhD, postdoctoral researcher at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, and coeditor of Debates on Feminism and Behavior Analysis ~Táhcita Mizael, PhD
“An important book and a must-read for those wanting to learn to ‘see’ language. You’ll follow its journey at theoretical, developmental, technical, and applied levels. If you have ever wanted to learn why it is that speaking a value can transform a life, sometimes in an instant, this is the book. A thorough text that would suit students, teachers, and professionals. I hope it becomes a text for every language and behavior syllabus.”
—Louise Hayes, PhD, author of What Makes You Stronger and Your Life Your Way; developer of DNA-V; clinical psychologist; and adjunct senior research fellow at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia ~Louise Hayes, PhD
“This is the book I have been waiting for—one that bridges the basic science of RFT from functional analysis to social justice, all in plain language. Practice implications, exercises, and personal disclosure on the part of the authors deconstruct complex ideas into felt functions that graduate students or advanced practitioners alike will benefit from. I look forward to the opportunity to adopt this text for graduate courses in behavior therapy.”
—Matthew D. Skinta, PhD, ABPP, assistant professor of psychology at Roosevelt University, and author of Contextual Behavior Therapy for Sexual and Gender Minority Clients ~Matthew D. Skinta, PhD, ABPP
“A thoroughly written text that invites readers toward a more complete understanding of RFT and its application. The written information provided in this text is supplemented with infographics throughout which serve to create accessibility to the information for those just learning about RFT, and expansion of knowledge for those more familiar with the topic. The authors have powerfully set the occasion for readers not only to read, but also experience RFT.”
—Nasiah Cirincione-Ulezi, EdD, BCBA, academic faculty director at the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Capella University ~Nasiah Cirincione-Ulezi, EdD, BCBA
“Writing about the functional vision is a challenge because, as any behavior, the act of understanding is brought to the present according to the individual history of interlocking contingencies. It is an act into a whole context, influenced by it and influencing it. Analyzing the complex functions, mostly in verbal humans, is a difficult endeavor. This book connects the dots in a creative, comprehensive, and didactic way. A present to learn and enjoy.”
—Carmen Luciano, PhD, professor of psychology and chair of the master’s program at University Almeria, and director of specialized training at the Madrid Institute of Contextual Psychology (MICPSY) ~Carmen Luciano, PhD