What is Positive Behaviour Support (PBS)?

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PBS is a multi-component framework for developing an understanding of  behaviour displayed by an individual: 


  • based on an assessment of the social and physical environment and broader context within which it occurs 
  • with the inclusion of stakeholder perspectives involvement 
  • using this understanding to develop, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of a personalised and enduring system of support 
  • that enhances quality of life outcomes for the focal person and other stakeholders.  


PBS blends values about the rights of people with a practical science about how learning and behaviour change occurs. The overriding goal of PBS is to enhance quality of life for individuals and their support providers in home, school and the community.

All behaviour is considered ‘functional’. This means all people engage in behaviour to meet needs. Generally speaking, we engage in behaviour to: 


• Gain access to something desirable…tangible/ social/sensory/self-regulatory  

• Avoid something aversive…. tangible/ social/sensory/self-regulatory 

What is a Functional Behavioural Assessment (FBA)?

A functional behavioural assessment (FBA) is the process used for determining the ‘function’ of a behaviour (i.e. why a behaviour is occurring). It involves examining what typically happens before and after target behaviour (antecedents – behaviour consequences, or ABC Analysis). The overall context in which the behaviour occurs is also explored. 


An FBA typically includes: 

  • File review/Background details of individual and behaviour 
  • Observations, interviews and data collection (including Environmental Assessment, Quality of Life Review and Restrictive Practice Screening) 
  • Review of skills and difficulties in different areas (e.g. communication) 
  • Review of interests and preferences (i.e. Reinforcer survey) 
  • A clear description of the target behaviour (operational definition) 
  • History of the behaviour 
  • Events, times and situations that predict when behaviours will and will not occur – antecedent analysis 
  • Consequences that maintain the target behaviour 
  • Summary of statements or hypothesis 

What is a Positive Behaviour Support Plan (PBSP)?

A Positive Behaviour Support Plan (PBSP) is then developed based on all of the information gathered from the FBA. A PBSP typically includes the following: 


Proactive Strategies, used to prevent target behaviour from occurring and comprise Environmental Strategies (changes made to the environment that make target behaviour less likely to occur); Skills Building Strategies (teaching functionally equivalent/related skills, coping skills or other general skills that make target behaviour less likely to occur); Direct Intervention Strategies (make target behaviour less likely to occur).


Reactive Strategies, outlining how to respond to the target behaviour when it occurs, from least to most intrusive.


Implementation Plan, describes how the plan will be put into practice (materials/training etc. that might be needed).


Generalisation, Maintenance, Evaluation and Review Strategies.