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Looking at Problem Behavior in a New Way: Non-Linear Contingency Analysis and the Constructional Approach – 9 hour workshop


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Event Information

Presented by: T.V. Joe Layng, PhD  & Professor Paul Andronis, PhD

Live: Wednesday 7/13/22 | 7/20/22 | 7/27/22    6:00 pm - 9:00 pm EDT

The recording of all ABAC Live events are accessible to those that register for the live event for 2-weeks.
Continuing education credit and professional development requirements must be met within that two-week window.

The recording will close on 8/10/22 at 11:59 pm Eastern.


Professionals in a wide range of fields are bound to ethical standards and guidelines that are designed so they act in ways that protect the ethical and legal rights of clients, consumers, and communities. Unfortunately, to address problem behavior, teachers, managers, behavior analysts, behavioral health professionals, and even animal care professionals, often use procedures that rely on punishment and threats (if you don’t finish your essay you won’t go to recess) or forced compliance, which may even include positive reinforcement (you must sit for a treat regardless of how you feel). Those types of procedures focus on controlling behavior versus skill building.

During this 9-hour workshop, designed for behavioral health professionals, behavior analysts, mental health professionals, other interested professionals, Drs. Joe Layng and Paul Andronis will introduce attendees to non-linear contingency analysis and the constructional approach (Goldiamond, 1974/2002, 2022; Layng, et al., 2022). The presenters will guide attendees as they learn to approach problem behavior in others (and themselves) via skill building (constructional) interventions. Using changing emotions as a guide, and designed to increase choices and options – this approach differs from, and goes beyond punishment/coercion/simple reinforcement and other commonly used interventions.

Additional Information

This workshop focuses on skill building interventions vs. those that eliminate behavior. Presenters will focus on increasing choice and degrees of freedom. Behavior analysts serving those with Autism are especially encouraged to attend in light of current discussions regarding the use of punishment-based procedures, assent, and client-choice.

This workshop includes both lecture, presenter/participant interactions, and hands-on practice activities. Attendees are strongly encouraged to attend as many sessions as they can live, however all sessions will be recorded and available for two weeks following the last live session.


Those who want solutions for improving performance, communication, safety, and quality of life--including but not limited to professionals who work in the fields of behavioral health, mental health, education, business, animal welfare, and beyond.

We also welcome those for whom the topic is within their scope of practice, students and others who are also interested in the topic to join us. Note that continuing education credit may not be available for all professionals in the target audience. ABAC will provide a certificate of attendance for those who attend for professional development purposes.


Session One: What does it mean to be constructional?

During session one, Drs. Layng and Andronis will provide a brief overview of the workshop series content, introduce attendees to the distinction between the constructional approach and pathological or punishment-based (eliminative) approaches, introduce attendees to the Constructional Questionnaire and case presentation guide, and provide attendees with opportunities to develop constructional diagnoses of problem behavior and describe initial treatment plans. Attendees will be given an abridged copy of a constructional interview, will write a brief constructional diagnosis, and then, using the case presentation guide, recommend a treatment intervention. They will then have the opportunity to revise their plans until they match the elements of a provided model plan.

After participating in this session attendees will:

  • Identify the five components of the constructional approach.
  • Distinguish between pathological and constructional terminal repertoires, current relevant repertoires, change procedures, maintaining consequences, and progress monitoring.
  • Determine if a written scenario is an example of the constructional approach or a pathological approach.

Session Two: Nonlinear contingency analysis

During session two, Drs. Layng and Andronis will provide attendees with a working definition of contingency and introduce attendees to the distinction between linear and nonlinear contingency analysis. They will provide attendees with the opportunities to see the effect of nonlinear contingency relations on their own behavior and emotions, introduce attendees to the concept of “degrees of freedom” and implications for assent and consent and finally, provide attendees with the opportunities to perform nonlinear analysis and suggest nonlinear matrices for behavioral issues they may be facing.

After participating in this session attendees will:

  • Distinguish the definition of contingency from dependency and the absence of a contingency.
  • Identify examples and non-examples of what it means to be “non-linear.”
  • Distinguish between linear and nonlinear contingency analysis.

Session Three: Topical and systemic interventions, and their societal implications

During session three, Drs. Layng and Andronis will introduce attendees to the distinction between topical and systemic interventions (where the problem presented is not the problem to solve) and when it is appropriate to apply each, introduce attendees to methods of identifying systemic interventions and to the implication of systemic analysis to understanding complex social and societal behavior.

After participating in this session attendees will:

  • Identify topical direct, topical functional, topical nonlinear, and systemic nonlinear contingency relations in clinical intervention.
  • Identify potentiating variables that make the consequences of maintaining disturbing behavior effective and how they may be utilized systemically during treatment.
  • Identify systemic nonlinear relations within a scenario that account for complex social behavior, like the formation of cults and cult-like behavior, and how these may be used to intervene to prevent bullying and potentially violent groups.


T. V. Joe Layng is a Fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis International with over 50 years of experience in the experimental and applied analysis of behavior with a particular focus on the design of teaching/learning environments. Joe earned a Ph.D. in Behavioral Sciences (biopsychology) at the University of Chicago. At Chicago, working with pigeons, he investigated animal models of psychopathology, specifically the recurrence of pathological patterns (head-banging) as a function of normal behavioral processes. Also working with pigeons, he contributed to the discovery and characterization of the behavioral process known as contingency adduction. Joe has extensive clinical behavior analysis experience with a focus on ambulatory schizophrenia, especially the systemic as well as topical treatment of delusional speech and hallucinatory behavior. In 1971 he founded the Center for Innovative Design and Programmed Instruction at Western Illinois University. A few years later Joe established a research/treatment program, the Personal Effectiveness Group, at the Institute of Psychiatry, Northwestern University Medical Center. He went on in 1984 to found Enabling Technologies, a software firm which was one of the first to use gamification to teach business software, as well as an array of business products and advanced 3D modeling software. In the 1990s, Joe was Director of Academic Support and then Dean at Malcolm X College in Chicago where he founded the award winning Personalized Curriculum Institute. In 1999, he co-founded Headsprout where Joe led the scientific team that developed the technology that formed the basis of the company’s patented Early Reading and Reading Comprehension online reading programs, for which he was the chief architect. Joe has spent the last several years mentoring students, interested investigators and practitioners in nonlinear contingency analysis. He has published over 50 articles or chapters, a range of software applications, a self-instruction book on Signal Detection Theory for behavior analysts and recently coauthored the book Nonlinear Contingency Analysis: Going Beyond Cognition and Behavior in Clinical Practice. Joe is currently a partner in Generategy, LLC, an adjunct professor of Behavior Analysis at Endicott College, and is Chair, Board of Trustees, the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Prof. Andronis earned his B.S. (1971) and an M.S. (1974) in zoology, at Western Illinois University, and an M.S. (1979) and Ph.D. (1983) in biopsychology at The University of Chicago. While still a doctoral student, he participated in an Illinois state grant project to train mental health workers at state facilities to use the Constructional Approach to treatment. He then completed a three-year U.S.P.H.S. Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Psychiatry, under Professor Israel Goldiamond, at The University of Chicago, with a concurrent appointment as Instructor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences (1984-1987). Throughout this Postdoctoral Fellowship, he worked closely with Goldiamond on a wide variety of clinical cases using the Constructional Approach (CA) to help clients referred by the Department of Psychiatry to the Goldiamond’s Behavior Analysis Research Laboratory. In Spring of 1987, he was recruited to the full-time clinical/teaching faculty at the Chicago Osteopathic Medical School as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, where he taught nonlinear contingency analysis (NCA) and the CA to medical students and residents, and established an in-patient eating disorders clinic based on constructional procedures. Subsequently, he was recruited back to the faculty at The University of Chicago, with a primary appointment as Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry in Behavioral Medicine (Department of Psychiatry), with joint appointments in the Department of Medicine (Section on Gastroenterology), in the Committee on Biopsychology (Department of Behavioral Sciences) and in the College. In his primary appointment in Psychiatry, he systematically applied the Constructional Approach to help numerous behavioral medicine patients try to overcome a variety of complex psychiatric conditions and related medical issues. In the Department of Medicine (Gastroenterology), he established standard constructional nutrition and weight control procedures for patients with extreme medical conditions resulting from, or exacerbated by their bariatric status. Throughout this time, he also trained medical students and residents to apply constructional analysis and intervention methods in their clinical casework. In Fall 1990, he was hired by the Department of Psychology at NMU, with responsibility for teaching courses in experimental and applied behavior analysis, training students in basic behavioral research and intervention, and coordinating the department’s Behavior Analysis option. He was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor and granted tenure in August 1993, and promoted to Professor in Spring 2001, the same semester he received the NMU Distinguished Faculty Award. In addition to his teaching, academic work, and running his basic research laboratories at NMU, he was also sought out for consultation by local programs delivering services to children with autism, by group homes for adults with cognitive difficulties, and by a large software company that designed online instructional materials. All through his thirty years at NMU, his teaching was grounded in nonlinear contingency analysis and constructional approaches to intervention, not only in clinical settings, but in personal behavior problems and institutional management settings alike.


The presenters receive royalties for the sale of book(s) mentioned during this workshop.


  • 0.9 IACET CEUs
  • 9 BACB CEUs (Learning)
  • 8.25 QABA Learning Unit (LUs)
  • 8.25 APA Credit Hours for psychologists CONTENT AREA LEVEL: Introductory
  • 9 NBCC CEs (Assessment) 

AOTA & ASWB credit hours not offered for this Live Event. 


  • Opportunities to interact with the presenter during the Live Event.
  • All ABACLive Events include a reference list which allows attendees to continue their research following the event.
  • Presenters may provide their slides or an abridged version of their slides as a handout at their own discretion.
  • Handouts and additional resources (if applicable) are available for download 24 hours prior to the Live Event start time.
  • 20% off Coupon Code for the book "Nonlinear Contingency Analysis: Going Beyond Cognition and Behavior in Clinical Practice" (This book is highly recommended, but not required).
  • Abridged Copy of the Constructional Interview
  • PDF of Constructional Questionnaire
  • PDF of Case Presentation Guide
  • PDF of completed Model CPG
  • Two-week Post-Live Event Access Period: During this time, those that registered for the live event are able to view the recording, access handouts and other resources provided (if applicable) and complete continuing education requirements.



  • Attendance Verification and Passing Score on Post-test (80%) Required to Earn Continuing Education Credit
  • Participants are provided multiple opportunities to pass the post-test and provide attendance verification.
  • For ABAC's continuing education approvals statements please view our Continuing Education page.

If the abovementioned continuing education credit requirements are not met, participants will not receive continuing education credit. Partial credit will not be awarded. Refunds and transfers are not granted if requirements are not met. In the event additional support is necessary to achieve the expected outcomes (see below) please reach out to to request assistance.

Attendees who meet the continuing education credit requirements must also fill out a confidential evaluation. Once the evaluation is complete, the certificate can be found in the "My Certificates" tab in an attendee's personal dashboard.


Certificate of attendance are offered to those who do not need or require continuing education credit. For those attending the live event, selecting "other" as a professional designation will produce a certificate of attendance for professional development or internal organization training purposes.


Attendees will select the correct answer on 80% of the questions presented across the three post-tests. Each post-test will follow the end of a session and will assess the learning objectives from that session, Attendee will have two retakes for each post-test.


6:00 pm: 3-5 minute Introduction
6:05 pm Presentation begins
7:30 pm 10 minute break
7:40 pm Break ends- presentation continues.
7:45 pm  Audience QA- Audience may also ask questions throughout the presentations
9:00 pm Live Model: Submitting Continuing Education Requirements and Evaluation and Accessing your Certificate (Optional but recommended for those new to ABAC. Can't stay?  Click on this Link for more on how to earn Continuing Education at ABAC)