BCBA Supervision: Continuing the Progress in the Profession
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy agencies will often offer Board Certified Behavioral Analysis (BCBA) supervision to those who are seeking a Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) certification. This certification is needed to be able to prove that you have met the credentialing necessary to practice ABA. It is recognized by all members in the professional field of ABA and the government.
After attending school and receiving the education necessary to begin working in the field of ABA it is important to understand that a degree is the starting point. To be a qualified therapist you must receive supervision by a qualified individual and pass a board exam. This is necessary to be able to prove that you are fully knowledgeable and capable to work in the field.
BCBA supervisors take on the responsibility to verify that someone is competent enough to be able to provide the best behavioral interventions to help families. All behavior interventions are not meant for everyone. Families and individuals all have different needs or lifestyles that will need to be factored into choosing intervention plans. However, ABA, in general, is an effective treatment for children on the spectrum. Supervisors guide the trainee to apply the textbook knowledge to hands-on intervention plan building.
To be able to qualify for BACB certification a total of 1500 hours must be completed in fieldwork. Typically, this will take approximately 2 years to complete if working an average of 15 hours a week. Some places can allow you to work while obtaining your fieldwork hours, this is not the case for everyone so take that into account when planning.
Who Can Supervise?
The BACB has strict policies on who can supervise the field work. Supervisors must hold a BCBA or BCBA-D certification at the time of supervision and have passed the 8-hour competency-based training for supervisors or it will not qualify for the fieldwork hours. For some, this may appear very strict. This is for a reason; behavior intervention is able to change the life of an individual and their families. Having someone who is not qualified be a part of that could be harmful to the individual. Verify that the person who is providing supervision is qualified in the position and capable of providing fieldwork opportunities.
For anyone who holds a BCBA or BCBA-D certification, it is possible to become a supervisor. Becoming a supervisor is important for the progression of ABA therapy and to gain more individuals to help implement behavioral therapies. Qualified supervisors are the second step to becoming an ABA therapist and getting the opportunity to help families and change lives.
Besides the requirement of having a BCBA or BCBA-D certification is it also necessary to complete 3 hours of continuing education units related to supervision during each certification cycle. The third requirement is to complete an 8-hour competency-based training that covers BABC’s supervisor training outline. Once all three of the requirements are met, it is possible to supervise trainees in their fieldwork.
There are a particular skill and knowledge set this is necessary to be an effective supervisor. These skills will provide evidence of the extensive knowledge the supervisor possesses in the field and their ability to use and guide others with their skills. Ineffective supervision not only reflects on the supervisee, but it reflects on the supervisor.
The supervisor is responsible for making sure that the supervisee is able to:
• Show sufficient practice repertoire.
• Problem-solving and make decisions in unfamiliar situations.
• Always engage in ethical behavior.
• Be an effective supervisor of their own practices.
• Participate in client services that result in client progress.
The supervisor will also be responsible for understanding and demonstrating:
• Performance expectations of the supervisee and supervisor.
• The description and execution of following the BACB Experience Standards.
• All competency tests.
• Completing an assessment of initial skills of the supervisee using interview and observation methods.
• All behavioral skills training.
• Schedule and include observations that involve video or computer assistance during training.
• Conduct performance evaluations both formally and informally.
Supervision training is an important job that requires attention to many different details of ABA. It includes being able to verify that a supervisee is capable of behavioral skills and assisting them in the different components should they not be. Training can include modeling, explanations, positive and corrective feedback, and/or role-play assessments.
Continuing Education Units
Continuing education units (CEU’s) are necessary to not only keep BACB certification but is also needed to remain or to become a supervisor. Ina two year cycle a total of 32 CEUs must be completed. For those who are supervisors, 3 CEUs must be completed in supervision. Every certificate must complete 4 CEUs in ethics.
CEUs can come from several different avenues. This includes:
• College or university coursework
• Authorized continuing education (ACE) providers
• Non-authorized events
• CEU issued from BACB directly
• Taking and passing the exam again
• Scholarly activities
In general, 50 minutes of instruction or learning in the ABA field will equal 1 CEU. The only exception is if the certification exam is taken again and passed. If this is chosen, then it will meet all 32 CEUs required for the two years. Repeating events will not provide expanded or new knowledge so understand this will not give extra CEUs.
The BCBA website offers information and checklists on all requirements for supervision. It has checklists for both the supervisor and the supervisee. It is a good resource to be able to verify if a potential supervisor is qualified to supervise. Also, it gives any paperwork or resources for both the supervisor and supervisee. This paperwork will have all checklists, applications, and important dates in one convenient location. Within the website it keeps all potential changes coming to the field listed and up to date. Notice is given for any changes that have been made to the process of becoming a BCBA or being a supervisor.
Becoming a supervisor so that the BCBA certification can continue is critical for ABA to continue growing. Many families wait long periods of time to be able to get the help that they desperately need. Though not a simple process, becoming a BCBA supervisor will increase the number of families that can receive life-changing services.