What is Positive Behaviour Support?

Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is established as a best practice approach to supporting people with disability who use behaviours of concern.

PBS is a framework that:
  1. Enables understanding of behaviours of concern displayed by an individual, based on an assessment of the social and physical environment and broader context within which those behaviours occur
  2. Includes the opinions and involvement of key people such as parents, teachers and support workers
  3. Generates knowledge and understanding to develop, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of a personalised strategies of support
  4. Enhances quality of life outcomes for the person receiving PBS, and others close to them.

PBS is the model of intervention strongly favoured by international research evidence for addressing behaviours of concern displayed by children, young people and adults with intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disability.

In settings such as group homes, schools, work, family homes and other community settings, PBS may be implemented for:

  1. Adults, children, and young people with intellectual or developmental disability
  2. Typically developing children and young people with other emotional and behaviours of concern
  3. People with other neurological conditions (such as acquired brain injury) who display behaviours of concern.

Key components of Positive Behaviour Support


  1. Prevention and reduction of behaviour of concern occurs within the context of increased quality of life, inclusion, participation, and the defence and support of valued social roles.
  2. Positive and proactive approaches to intervention, building skills and opportunities for the person and their support network.
  3. Stakeholder values and participation are important parts of assessment and intervention.

Theory and evidence base

  1. An understanding that behaviour of concern serves an important function (purpose) for the person
  2. The primary use of applied behaviour analysis to assess and support behaviour change. This provides important knowledge about how people learn.
  3. The use of other complementary, evidence-based approaches to support behaviour change in important areas of the persons social and physical environment


  1. Decision making is guided by data collection about the person’s behaviour and their social and physical environment.
  2. A functional assessment is completed to guide the development of function-based strategies to address the purpose of the behaviour.
  3. Multicomponent interventions to change behaviour (proactively) and manage behaviour (reactively)
  4. Implementation support, monitoring and evaluation of interventions over the long term

Source: Gore, N. J. et al. (2013). Definition and scope for positive behavioural support. International Journal of Positive Behavioural Support, 3(2) 14-23.