Implementing Behavioral Skills Training Strategies as a Staff Development Model

Effective on-going staff training strategies has shown to increase staff retention along with fostering staff development. Behavioral Skills Training (BST) is rooted in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) principles and is an evidenced-based teaching strategy to enhance staff training and staff development in a variety of employment fields. More specifically within residential treatment settings, BST strategies can teach staff at all levels the necessary competencies for working with learners who display challenging behaviors. Not only does the implementation of evidence-based training strategies positively impact the quality of care for learners within residential programs, but it also improves staff retention and perceived efficacy of their own skills in positive engagement, preventative strategies, and crisis de-escalation.

The BST model is comprised of four main components: 1) providing instruction; 2) modeling skills; 3) role playing skills; and 4) providing performance feedback. This model has been used as a training strategy across several different employment settings and types of positions from direct support professionals (Lerman et al. 2015), to teachers (Sarokoff & Sturmey, 2004). Additionally, BST strategies are often used for both basic skills, such as implementing behavioral support plans (Hogan et al., 2015), to more complex skills, such as classroom management systems (Miller et al., 2014). The BST model allows adaptability to fit variabilities amongst both the staff and the learners which makes it a practical solution for many programs.

This poster will review the process of implementing a BST curriculum for direct care staff at a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) in Kansas. Key implementation strategies for positive outcome include developing a staff mentor program, implementing fidelity checklists and ongoing evaluations, and providing ongoing feedback at established checkpoints in employment. Importantly, this also reviews how the buy-in was established for tenured and supervisory staff, and the tools developed for supervisors to continue regular evaluation and feedback easily and effectively.


Chris Delap

Director of Behavioral Services , Lakemary Center