DTT, is discrete trial training, gets its name from its discrete beginning and ending. It is a highly structured therapy that occurs in rapid succession. Tasks are presented until they reach a pre-determined mastery criterion. DTT is started with a cue to respond or instruction, and the child’s response is followed by reinforcement or correction.  Each time the task is presented, the same components are used in the same structured manner, as instructed by the BCBA. Because of its standardized format, DTT is easy for multiple therapists to use consistently between sessions and settings.
DTT is most commonly used for skills that require repetition or are not intrinsically motivating. It is also commonly used for new skills. This method, by its very nature, reduces environmental variables that may interfere with or take control over a child’s learning experience.


NET, or natural environment training is what we, as parents, do with our children on a daily basis. NET occurs, as said in the name, in the natural environment. Here, a therapist will follow a child’s lead, taking advantage of a child’s natural interests and motivation to create learning opportunities. This method has many advantages! It can be used anywhere and opportunities can be created for many skills; communication, pretend play, joint attention, turn taking.

There are a few drawbacks to NET because there is not always a specific protocol or step-by-step instructions like in DTT. It can be difficult to keep up with a child’s interests and keep goals functional and the interests of a child can often change frequently. In addition, there are less obvious roles of a stimulus, reinforcer and consequence and there can be areas targeted for implementation can be limited.

Article written by Melissa Roberts, RBT