Sensate Focus in SBA for Couples #Recorded


Instructor: Nicholas Maio-Aether, MAMFT, MSPSY, CSC, LBA, IBA, BCBA®

Duration: 221 minutes of CEU instruction – self-paced

4 General Learning Type BACB® CEUs provided upon course completion – full course description below



**This course will provide the participant with 4 General Learning Type BACB® CEUs**

Description of Learning Type CE Event: The prerequisite of this course is Intro to Psychotherapies for the BCBA. You MUST complete that course prior to this course!

A first-of-its-kind presentation within the field of Behavior Analysis, this CEU event will cover a set of behavioral shaping protocols from the multidisciplinary field of sexology that are actually well within our scope of practice, given the right training. The technology of Sensate Focus, first developed by Masters & Johnson, targets 3 primary problem behaviors that empirically sound research demonstrated (and continues to) are at the heart of most sexual “dysfunction.”

Sensate Focus is not a psychotherapy but can be employed by a variety of practitioner types and is even utilized by medical doctors and occupational therapists, as it treats the behavioral symptoms rather than a diagnosis, and does not delve into mentalism, so much as stimulus-response relations. As such, with proper training on the behavioral dynamics at play within couples’ systems and on the Sensate Focus protocols, themselves, a Behavior Analyst can be well-equipped to address common couples’ concerns regarding sexual behaviors using a primarily consultative model, similar in service delivery to parent training, but with a very different focus. After exploring the scientific backing and affirming a behavior-analytic scope approach, data from actual practice will be shown and paired with narratives of client outcomes. All CBS-C Student attendees will also receive a copy of the protocols for use in supervised applications. Learn about what others in this field have been doing, or, if you are a CBS-C Student, come learn to start doing this work, yourself!

DISCLAIMER: This event alone does not prepare a Behavior Analyst to begin engaging in Sensate Focus and/or couples treatments; CBS-C students are under the individual supervision of a demonstrably competent Sexual Behavior Analyst and Certified Sexuality Counselor (CSC).

About the Instructor: Nicholas Maio-Aether owns Empowered: A Center for Sexuality in St Louis, where he and his occasional teams of partnered Universities’ students work to assist humans with and without disabilities achieve sexual access, sexual freedom, gender affirmation, and self-control of compulsive behaviors. Nicholas works throughout the US training BCBAs/Behavior Analysts so persons in Individualized Supportive Living (ISL) programs gain access to applicable and generalizable comprehensive sex ed and sexual opportunities.

Nicholas provides Sexual Behavior Analysis, and has assisted polycules, kinksters, gay couples, trans and nonbinary humans, among others, on their journeys. Trained by GLSEN in 2003, Nicholas started Gay-Straight Alliances across Alaska while in high school, and provided them sex ed materials and trainings. Nicholas spent five years managing Hustler Hollywood in St Louis before moving into Behavior Analysis, and joined AASECT, where he currently sits on two committees. He then completed a Sex Therapy practicum under Linda Weiner, LMSW, CSTS, in 2019 before getting a second Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy, and meeting those hour requirements under Angela Skurtu, LMFT, CST, along with his LGBTQIA+ Family Systems Specialist certificate in 2021.

Target Audience: The prerequisite of this course is Intro to Psychotherapies for the BCBA, you MUST complete that course prior to this course!

Level 2/CBS-C Students, as well as any other BCBAs® curious about work that requires additional competencies to provide behavior-analytic services to couples experiencing sexual concerns commonly labeled as: low desire/arousability; initiation avoidance; vaginal tightness and/or dryness; delayed or inexperienced orgasms; erectile difficulties; infidelity.

Learning Objectives for Participants: As a result of this course participants will be able to …

  • Gain exposure to Sensate Focus research that provides true empirical backing demonstrative of behavioral change.
  • Acknowledge concerns for which Sensate Focus is an appropriate venue for a couple.
  • Acknowledge DSM-5/ICD-11 diagnostics and affirm we do not provide these.
  • Address interview questions that are behavioral, socially valid, and aligned with relevant functions.
  • Gain exposure to ACT-based assessments and the logic behind their use in behavioral treatments addressing avoidance.
  • Operationally Define the following behaviors: Spectatoring & Performing; Pleasure-Seeking/Orgasm-Seeking; Expectation-Setting; Statements of Willingness; Statements of Resistance.
  • Connect Masters & Johnson’s 3 Problem Behaviors to ACT-based treatment and acknowledge the function behind pairing these approaches.
  • Address how private events are being addressed as behavior through ACT protocols and experiences is an empirically validated method of teaching already used in ABA.
  • Address how to apply operational definitions of behavior to actual in-session tracking of data. o Address how to track & validate between-session data given as in-session narratives.
  • Demonstrate the art of applying reinforcement to relevant narratives while also not delving into mentalism.
  • Gain exposure to the actual Sensate Focus protocols and review them with a behavior-analytic lens.
  • Determine what about these protocols makes them behavioral, technological, parsimonious, and applicable within our science.
  • Determine what about these protocols is clearly shaping behavior.
  • Determine where and how reinforcement is accessed in this process, and how it increases probability and tracked rate of progress.
  • Determine areas in which punishment may naturally occur in this process.
  • Define and acknowledge the function of handriding. o Address the “to-dos” for when a protocol is found to be punitive.
  • Address the “to-dos” for when the treatment itself, is found to be punitive.
  • Address the fading out process, including maintenance, post-assessment, and discharge.