How do I know my BCBA is good? What qualifies him/her to be considered trained well to provide my child with the ABA services they so badly need?
A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) and should be able to provide you with documentation stating their completion of a master’s level BACB-approved program. The nature of the work a BCBA should be competent in can be found below in a description taken from the BACB website:
The BCBA is an independent practitioner who also may work as an employee or independent contractor for an organization.
The BCBA conducts descriptive and systematic behavioral assessments, including functional analyses, and provides behavior analytic interpretations of the results.
The BCBA designs and supervises behavior analytic interventions.
The BCBA is able to effectively develop and implement appropriate assessment and intervention methods for use in unfamiliar situations and for a range of cases.
The BCBA seeks the consultation of more experienced practitioners when necessary.
The BCBA teaches others to carry out ethical and effective behavior analytic interventions based on published research and designs and delivers instruction in behavior analysis.
BCBAs supervise the work of Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBA) and others who implement behavior analytic interventions.
A detailed description of specific BCBA requirements can be found here.
However, this list is not nearly exhaustive. A highly-qualified BCBA should not only be assessing skills, monitoring progress and creating treatment plans for children requiring Applied Behavior Analysis services; an ideal BCBA will be working to educate and train parents and/or other primary caregivers to provide additional instruction in the home and community environments. Furthermore, it is crucial that any BCBA working with your child is proficient in taking baseline data (data taken prior to intervention), in-treatment or progress data (data taken during the time your child is receiving intervention) and post-treatment data to measure the effectiveness of interventions conducted over a period of time. It is vital that data collection be a large part of what informs the treatment planning for your child. A BCBA should be able to display progress or regression via graphs to give an objective and clear example of what is working and what programs need to be modified.
Other qualities of a BCBA who is considered ideally proficient are:
* Has a variety of experience in multiple settings (e.g., in-home programs, school-based instruction, residential communities, etc.) and coursework attuned to the population he/she is currently working with. Many BCBAs have degrees in psychology, education, applied behavioral science or special education, although it is very possible to be an excellent BCBA without degrees in these specific fields.
*Has gained experience with their current caseload population at 1-3 internship or practicum sites through their bachelors or masters programs and has worked with their current population conducting Applied Behavior Analysis services under the supervision of another BCBA prior to becoming certified themselves.
*Is knowledgeable of and uses a variety of components of Applied Behavior Analysis such as: Discrete Trial Training (DTT), schedules of reinforcement, Natural Environment Teaching (NET- see last week’s post!), Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and behavioral intervention strategies. The list is long and I am sure we will cover more as questions keep rolling in!
*Facilitates communication and feedback with parents, in-home instructors, and other members of the team. It is important to feel that you are aware of what the BCBA is implementing and why.
*Is available for Individualized Education Program (IEP) and Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) meetings with parents, teachers and other school personnel to provide data and feedback for increased efficacy within the school setting.
*Encourages parent training for home-based programs and observations during treatment sessions.
*Has knowledge of community and online resources to supplement your in-home and school-based programming.
Ethical issues are another topic to consider when evaluating the caliber of a BCBA. First and foremost, the BCBA should always respect confidentiality, protecting names and identifying information including but not limited to: school locations, birth dates and home addresses. Several additional ethical considerations taken from the BACB website address the following Guidelines for Responsible Conduct items required for certification:
7.0 The Behavior Analyst’s Ethical Responsibility to the Field of Behavior Analysis.
The behavior analyst has a responsibility to support the values of the field, to disseminate knowledge to the public, to be familiar with these guidelines, and to discourage misrepresentation by non-certified individuals.
7.01 Affirming Principles.
The behavior analyst upholds and advances the values, ethics, principles, and mission of the field of behavior analysis. Participation in both state and national or international behavior analysis organizations is strongly encouraged.
7.02 Disseminating Behavior Analysis.
The behavior analyst assists the profession in making behavior analysis methodology available to the general public.
7.03 Being Familiar with These Guidelines.
Behavior analysts have an obligation to be familiar with these Guidelines, other applicable ethics codes, and their application to behavior analysts’ work. Lack of awareness or misunderstanding of a conduct standard is not itself a defense to a charge of unethical conduct.
7.04 Discouraging Misrepresentation by Non-Certified Individuals.
Behavior analysts discourage non-certified practitioners from misrepresenting that they are certified.
Thank you again for another fantastic- and very important- question. Check back next Monday for more and keep the questions coming!