Our Perspective and Policy on the Use of Punishment

Catalight, through its Care Services business and affiliate partners Easterseals Northern California and Easterseals Hawaii, is one of the largest behavioral health networks in the nation, serving nearly 11,000 families annually. Many of our families receive behavioral interventions including applied behavior analysis (ABA). Given the recent controversy about aversive punishment procedures including contingent skin electric shock (CESS), we have revisited our policy on punishment procedures to ensure that our policy against such aversive practices is clear.

Catalight policy on punishment:

Catalight and our Easterseals affiliates have never endorsed aversive punishment procedures. The use of punishment must be used strictly in accordance with Catalight, Catalight Easterseals affiliates and the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) ethical guidelines. Before using a punishment procedure, non-punishment based strategies should be used. In cases where non-punishment based strategies are not sufficient or when behavior cannot be addressed safely without a punishment procedure, low risk punishment procedures such as response cost may be considered.

Catalight and Catalight Easterseals affiliates do not allow or condone the use of electric shock including contingent skin electric shock (CESS), contingent exercise, spraying water, mechanical restraints, use of hot sauce, or any aversive punishment techniques that lead to pain, injury or creates fear or trauma in a client at any time.

Consent: At all times, clinicians and others working with clients and families should keep in mind that most clients with developmental disabilities are not able to give consent to treatment. Punishment procedures naturally infringe upon the self-determination of individuals, and as such should never be used without careful consideration.

Catalight statement on contingent electric skin shock (CESS):

Catalight and our Easterseals affiliates believe that behavior change can be achieved thorough ethical methods that do not harm clients. CESS is an unnecessary, unethical and demonstrably harmful intervention. Under no circumstance is CESS justified, as it can result in long-term negative physical and emotional effects.

Catalight and our Easterseals affiliates stand in firm opposition to CESS as it does not align to our clinical practice standards or our values.