What Is Overcorrection in ABA Therapy?

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In ABA therapy, overcorrection is an intervention strategy used for children demonstrating behaviours we want to decrease or eliminate. In short, the student will be required to complete an over the top effort to fix the damage caused by their inappropriate behaviour.

What is Overcorrection in ABA Therapy

Overcorrection is a technique used in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy to address and modify behaviours we want to decrease or eliminate. In ABA, overcorrection is a from of positive punishment. It involves requiring the individual to engage in corrective actions or behaviours that are directly related to the behaviour we want to decrease, often in an exaggerated or extended manner. In a sense, the environment should look way ‘better’ than it did initially.

The purpose of overcorrection is to teach the individual the appropriate behaviour by providing intensive practice and reinforcement, ultimately reducing or eliminating the occurrence of the unwanted behaviour. As overcorrection is a type of punishment strategy, an ABA professional must fully assess and oversee implementation of overcorrection strategies in therapy. It should be employed when other behavioural interventions have not been effective such as reinforcement, in changing the behaviour or when the behaviour has significant negative consequences such as safety risks. Overcorrection strategies are tailored to the individual’s needs and is implemented under the guidance of a trained ABA professional such as a BCBA.

The Role of Overcorrection in ABA

The role of overcorrection in ABA therapy is to address and reduce unwanted behaviours by providing a consequence that goes beyond simple correction or restitution. Overcorrection aims to have individuals be more aware of the impact of their behaviour by implementing more extreme consequences while teaching them appropriate replacement behaviours. By requiring individuals to engage in a corrective action or practice the desired behaviour, overcorrection helps to reinforce positive alternatives and discourage the recurrence of problem behaviours.

Examples of Overcorrection Techniques in ABA Therapy

Examples of overcorrection techniques in ABA therapy include restitutional overcorrection and positive practice overcorrection. Restitutional overcorrection involves having the individual restore the environment to a better state than before the undesired behaviour occurred. For instance, if a child throws an item, they may be asked to not only pick it up but also clean the surrounding area (even if the mess that was in the surrounding area was before made before he threw the item).

Positive practice overcorrection involves having the individual repeatedly practice the appropriate behavior to strengthen the correct response and discourage the undesired behaviour. For instance, if a child engages in inappropriate language, they may be asked to practice using polite and respectful language in various scenarios. These techniques aim to increase awareness of the consequences of negative behaviours, promote responsibility, and develop more adaptive behaviours. A famous old strategy that I think we all experience (but may not be the best first strategy to try is to write positive statements on a whiteboard over and over again after doing something you shouldn’t have. Most of the time, its not even related, but I think we have all been there!

It is important to note that the specific techniques and strategies used in overcorrection should be individualized and implemented with the guidance of a qualified ABA professional as we would want to make sure strategies are implemented ethically.

Potential Benefits and Considerations of Overcorrection in ABA Interventions

Overcorrection can offer several potential benefits in ABA interventions when assessed and implemented correctly. Firstly, it provides a strong consequence that helps individuals understand the impact of and identify their behaviours and motivates them to change. It can be particularly effective for behaviours that are disruptive or harmful, as it emphasizes the importance of appropriate behaviour and encourages individuals to engage in positive alternatives.

However, it is crucial to consider individual factors, such as age, developmental level, and the severity of the behaviour, when implementing overcorrection. It should always be used in a balanced and ethical manner, with careful consideration of the potential emotional and psychological impact on the individual. If these factors are not considered carefully, unwanted side effects can happen when implementing overcorrection. ABA professionals should monitor the effectiveness of overcorrection and be prepared to modify or adjust the intervention as needed.

Ethical Considerations and Best Practices in Using Overcorrection in ABA Therapy

In using overcorrection in ABA therapy, it is essential to assess carefully between the potential benefits and the ethical considerations involved. Overcorrection should be implemented with caution, considering the individual’s unique needs, abilities, and circumstances. Ultimately, it is still a punishment strategy that can cause unwanted side effects if not implemented correctly. A thorough functional behaviour assessment is crucial in identifying the underlying causes and maintaining a person-centered approach. It is important to consider alternative interventions or strategies that may be equally effective and less intrusive before resorting to overcorrection. Furthermore, open communication and collaboration with the individual, their family, and other professionals involved in their care are vital to ensure a collaborative and ethical approach. Regular monitoring and evaluation of progress should be conducted to determine the effectiveness and appropriateness of the intervention. At the end of the day, the goal is to promote positive behaviour change and improve the individual’s overall quality of life while upholding ethical standards and principles of care.


What is an example of overcorrection in ABA?

An example of overcorrection in ABA therapy could be when a child is required to clean up a mess they made and then perform additional cleaning tasks as a consequence for their behaviour. This approach aims to provide a strong corrective experience and promote the development of more appropriate behaviours.

What is an example of an overcorrection?

An example of overcorrection in ABA therapy is when a person is required to repeat a specific behaviour or task multiple times as a consequence for engaging in an undesired behaviour. This technique aims to enhance learning and reinforce the desired behaviour by providing additional practice and repetition

What is overcorrection behaviour technique?

Overcorrection is a behaviour technique used in applied behaviour analysis (ABA) where an individual is required to engage in a corrective behaviour that is excessive or intensive in response to an undesired behaviour. The purpose of overcorrection is to teach the individual the appropriate behaviour and discourage the occurrence of the undesired behaviour through a heightened level of corrective action.

What are the different types of overcorrection in ABA?

In applied behavior analysis (ABA), there are two main types of overcorrection: restitutional and positive practice. Restitutional overcorrection involves requiring the individual to restore the environment or situation to its original state or engage in activities to repair the consequences of their behavior. Positive practice overcorrection involves repeatedly practicing the appropriate behavior to ensure its correct execution and establish a strong habit.

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