Behaviour Skills Training (BST)

behaviour skills training miltonberger abaB.S.T.

Best Skill-building Technique.

Build Someone’s Tenacity.

Broad Spectrum Treatment.

Barn-Storming Truism?

When I first read a description of this training technique in my textbook, I shrugged. Yeah, sure, of course, you describe a skill, then model it, then rehearse in a practice setting, then try it out live with feedback. What kind of idiot doesn’t do that? In my youthful arrogance and naivete, it didn’t occur to me that I had never actually done that in my own practice in a thoughtful and systematic way.

Fortunately, I eventually gained a good mentor who gave me a nudge, and reminded me that if I’m expecting people (employees, clients, myself) to learn, I need to use evidence-based practices, so I gave it a try.

The Behaviour Skills Training model was designed and researched by Dr. Raymond Miltenburger in 2004. Here’s how it works.

  1. Describe the skill. We’re all pretty good at this part. We talk. We distribute hand-outs. We put up helpful slides. Sometimes we pat ourselves on the back, pack up and go home at this point. NOT SO FAST…
  2. Model or demonstrate the skill. I enjoy this step. It’s fun to show off. Often, when I work with parents, I remind them that they can model the skill they’re trying to teach (e.g., disagreeing respectfully, staying on task, apologizing sincerely) and these parents often see a change in their kids. However, there’s still more to do!
  3. Role-play. SO MUCH FUN, and always eye-opening. Very few people, it turns out, can learn just by hearing and watching. It’s important to try it, and smooth out the inevitable hiccups. You will be surprised how many people are willing to do this with you (if you don’t give them any choice.)
  4. Live practice, with feedback.If we skip directly from Step 1 to Step 4, that’s called “being thrown in the deep end.” If your goal is to be an efficient teacher and to have confident, successful students, stick to BST, and you will be glad you did.

For more discussion on this topic and some excellent footnotes, check out



0 thoughts on “Behaviour Skills Training (BST)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *