What is a BCBA?

Training and Credentialing of Behavior Analysts
ABA is a specialized behavioral health treatment approach and most graduate or postgraduate training programs in psychology, counseling, social work, or other areas of clinical practice do not provide in-depth training in this discipline. Thus, an understanding of the credentialing process of Behavior Analysts by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) can assist health plans and their subscribers in identifying those providers who meet the basic competencies to practice ABA.

The formal training of professionals certified by the BACB is similar to that of other medical and behavioral health professionals. That is, they are initially trained within academia and then begin working in a supervised clinical setting with clients. As they gradually demonstrate the competencies necessary to manage complex clinical problems across a variety of clients and medical environments, they  become independent  practitioners.  In  summary,  Behavior  Analysts  undergo  a rigorous course of training and education, including an “internship” period in which they work under the direct supervision of an experienced Behavior Analyst.

It should be noted that other licensed professionals may have ABA included within their particular scope of training  and competence.  In addition, a small  subset of clinicians  may be licensed by another profession and also hold a credential from the BACB,  thereby providing additional evidence of the nature and depth of their training in ABA.

Although healthcare funding and management of behavioral health treatments supervised by Behavior Analysts is relatively recent, Behavior Analysts– like other medical and behavioral health providers– rely upon strategies and procedures documented in peer-reviewed literature, established treatment protocols, and clinical decision-making frameworks. They continually evaluate the current state of the client and customize treatment options based on the results of direct observation and data from a range of other assessments. Behavior Analysts also solicit and integrate information from the client and family members and coordinate care with other professionals.

The BACB is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation established to meet professional credentialing needs identified by Behavior Analysts, governments, and consumers of behavior analysis services. The mission of the BACB is to protect consumers of behavior analysis services worldwide by systematically establishing, promoting, and disseminating professional standards. The BACB has established uniform content, standards, and criteria for the credentialing process that are designed to meet:
•  The legal standards established through state, national, and case law;
•  The accepted standards for certification programs; and
•  The “best practice” and ethical standards of the behavior analysis profession.

The BCBA and BCaBA certification programs are currently accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the accreditation arm of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. NCCA reviews and oversees all aspects related to ensuring the development and application of appropriate credentialing processes.

The  BACB  credentials  and  recognizes  practitioners  at  four levels:
Practitioners credentialed at the BCBA-D and BCBA levels  are  defined  as  Behavior  Analysts.  The  BACB requires that BCaBAs, or Assistant Behavior Analysts, work under  the  supervision  of  a BCBA-D  or BCBA. RBTs must work under the supervision of a BCBA-D, BCBA, or BCaBA.

Eligibility Requirements for Behavior Analysts & Assistant Behavior Analysts
Applicants who meet the degree, coursework, and supervised experience eligibility requirements described in the next section are permitted to sit for either the BCBA  or BCaBA examination (see   figure below). Each examination is professionally developed to meet accepted  examination standards and is based on the results of a formal job analysis and survey. In addition, all BACB examinations are offered under secure testing conditions and are professionally administered and scored.

Licensure of Behavior Analysts
BACB certification credentials or standards are currently the basis for licensure in the U.S. states where Behavior Analysts are licensed. Basing licensure on BACB credentials is cost effective and ensures that critical competencies regarding practice and research are periodically reviewed and updated by practitioners and researchers. Whether it is used as the basis for licensure or as a “free-standing” credential, BACB certification credentials are recognized in those states where insurance  reform  laws have  been enacted and in other states as  well.

Copyright © 2014 by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc. (“BACB”). Ver. 2.0 Electronic and/or paper copies of part or all of this work may be made for personal, educational, or policymaking purposes, provided such copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage. All copies, regardless of medium, must include this notice on the first page. Abstracting with proper credit is permitted, so long as the credit reads “Copyright © 2014 by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc. (“BACB”), all rights reserved.” All other uses and/or distributions in any medium require advance written permission of the BACB, available from info@bacb.com.