Board-certified behavior analysts (BCBA) play an essential role in providing ABA therapy services. But what exactly are their responsibilities and what education is needed to become a behavior analyst? This article will help you understand what a BCBA does and decide whether it is the right career for you.
What Does BCBA Stand For?
BCBA stands for Board Certified Behavior Analyst. BCBA is a graduate-level certification that allows independent practitioners to provide applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy services. The main role of a behavior analyst is to study the behavior of children with developmental disorders, including autism, and create personalized plans to improve or change problematic behaviors.
Where do BCBAs work?
BCBAs work with children of all ages in a variety of settings such as schools, therapeutic preschool programs, hospitals, and private practices. A behavior analyst may also monitor the child’s behavior at home and in other environments.
Continue reading to learn more about the main responsibilities of a behavior analyst.
What Do BCBAs Do?
BCBAs have a wide variety of responsibilities, ranging from communication, assessment, and developing treatment plans to training and supervision.
A large part of the BCBA’s role is communication with the child’s parents, teachers, members of the behavior analysis team, and other professionals, such as pediatricians, psychologists, speech pathologists, and occupational therapists. Effective communication will ensure that the BCBA is aware of the progress the child is making in different areas and the difficulties the child may be encountering during therapy.
BCBAs conduct initial consultations where they observe the child within individual and group settings and perform diagnostic assessments. This assessment will allow them to create an appropriate treatment plan suitable for the emotional, cognitive, and sensory needs of each child. BCBAs may also suggest additional treatment by other professionals, for example, speech or occupational therapists.
Developing individual treatment plans
Each child with autism is different and a treatment that might work well for one child may not be successful for another. That’s why BCBAs have to customize treatment plans to the child’s individual needs. Behavior analysts are also expected to do research and apply relevant findings in their treatment plans.
BCBAs conduct training of children with autism using different ABA techniques, such as positive reinforcement, prompt fading, shaping, and task analysis to reduce negative behaviors and teach substitute ones.
In addition to working with children, BCBAs offer autism parent training programs. These programs are intended to help families better understand the principles of ABA therapy and show them how they can best support their child at home and in other environments outside of the clinical setting.
One of BCBAs’ responsibilities is to supervise the work of Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBAs), Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs), and other professionals who implement ABA interventions to ensure that the child is receiving the appropriate treatment.
In addition to the tasks listed above, BCBAs have a variety of other responsibilities, such as:
- Review training effectiveness and progress
- Offer support and feedback to families when it comes to managing challenging behaviors
- Provide training to Assistant Behavior Analysts and Behavioral Technicians
- Advocate for the inclusion of individuals with autism within society.
Now that you have a better understanding of what BCBAs’ work consists of, you can learn more about the education and training you need to obtain if you wish to become a BCBA.
How to Become a BCBA?
To become a BCBA, you have to meet certain education, training, and certification criteria.
BCBAs are required to obtain at least a master’s degree in behavior analysis, psychology, education, special education, early childhood education and development, or another relevant field. Some BCBAs decide to pursue a doctoral degree in behavior analysis, which will allow them to do behavioral research and expand their job opportunities.
In addition to completing graduate studies, you also need to have a certain number of training hours.
Training can be done in one of the following ways:
- Supervised independent fieldwork: a minimum of 1,500 hours of clinical experience under the supervision of an experienced behavior analyst
- Practicum: at least 1,000 hours of clinical experience with closer supervision than supervised independent fieldwork, or
- Intensive practicum: 750 hours or more of clinical experience under the strictest supervision.
Behavior analysts are certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). The BCBA examination tests relevant knowledge of behavior analytic skills (measurement, experimental design, fundamentals of behavior change) and client-centered responsibilities (problem identification, assessment, intervention, management, and supervision).
Depending on where you live, you might also need to get a state license in addition to a BCBA certification in order to practice applied behavior analysis.
Other than a good understanding of psychology and child development and minimum professional qualifications, BCBAs must have a set of skills that makes them suitable for working with children with autism. These skills include:
- Interest in teaching and helping others
- Ability to read behaviors and body language
- Problem-solving skills that will allow you to assess a child’s behavioral challenges and determine the most suitable treatment plan
- Writing skills in order to be able to write detailed reports of patient assessments and progress
- Verbal communication skills that will allow you to speak in easy-to-understand terms when meeting with children and their families or interacting with other professionals
- Patience necessary for dealing with children who display challenging behaviors
- Ability to perform crisis interventions.
How Do You Maintain Your BCBA Certification?
To maintain your BCBA certification, you must meet continuing education requirements and comply with BACB ethical standards. Before your current certification expires, you need to fill out the necessary renewal forms, submit certification renewal fees, and complete all attestations and reporting requirements.
How often do you need to recertify?
You need to get recertified every two years.
If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.