Maybe you’ve never heard of Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs), or you’ve heard of them frequently but never been provided an explanation of how a BCBA differs from an ABA therapist. Here are a few things you should know:
BCBAs are required to take extensive coursework in applied behavior analysis and complete 1500 hours of supervised work. Furthermore, they are required to take a difficult comprehensive exam at the end of their coursework and supervision hours. Once they have completed the hours and passed the exam, they are officially a BCBA.
BCBAs must complete 32 units of continuing education every two years. There is a requirement that some of these hours pertain to ethics, but the rest can be focused on skills such as addressing verbal behavior, feeding issues, aggressive behaviors, and more.
BCBAs are held to the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts. If a BCBA does not comply with the code, they can be reported to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Several states have also introduced licensure for behavior analysts, so there may be a state board for reporting any ethical violations.
BCBAs are required to utilize evidence-based practice. A BCBA should be aware of current research in the field and should be able to easily reference the literature when encountering a difficult problem or working on an intervention.
One of my favorite parts of the ethical code for BCBAs is that “clients have a right to effective treatment.” Your BCBA should be taking data and implementing interventions that are effective in creating behavior change for clients. If an intervention is not working, then adjustments should be made.
The goal of Behavior Analyst Certification Board is to ensure appropriate training and accountability for behavior analysts.
WRITTEN BY SAM BLANCO, PhD, LBA, BCBA
Sam is an ABA provider for students ages 3-15 in NYC. Working in education for twelve years with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental delays, Sam utilizes strategies for achieving a multitude of academic, behavior, and social goals. She is also an assistant professor in the ABA program at The Sage Colleges.