Reducing Inadvertent Clinical Errors: Guidelines From Functional Analytic Psychotherapy

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Abstract

Two common types of clinical errors, inadvertently reinforcing client problem behaviors or inadvertently punishing client improvements, are conceptualized from the viewpoint of Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP), a treatment that harnesses the power of the therapeutic relationship. Understanding the functions of client behaviors such as incessant talking and over compliance can lead to more compassionate and effective intervention, and a functional analysis of seemingly problematic behaviors such as silence and lack of cooperation indicate how they may be client improvements. Suggestions are provided for how to more accurately conceptualize whether client behaviors are problems or improvements, and to increase awareness of therapist vulnerabilities that can lead to errors. While FAP is rooted in a functional contextual philosophy, the goal of this article is to offer a framework that crosses theoretical boundaries to decrease the likelihood of clinical errors and to facilitate client growth.

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