Qualifications

Those seeking to benefit from ABA often find the numerous qualifications discussed confusing. The purpose of this page is to differentiate between the different qualifications to help inform decisions made by consumers. To find a qualified behaviour analyst near you, visit the Board Analyst Certification Board’s website.

BCBA: BOARD CERTIFIED BEHAVIOUR ANALYST

A BCBA is recognised internationally as a fully qualified behaviour analyst. This qualification requires a primary degree at third level and a Master’s degree in methods of ABA which usually takes two years. The Master’s degree normally involves: ABA coursework and a research thesis; specialised training; supervised practical experience in real-world settings; and a certification examination at the higher level.

The BCBA accreditation indicates capacity to design and supervise interventions independently for a wide range of individuals or groups, however, a BCBA should always operate within the sphere of their competence and experience. Continuing education is essential for maintaining this accreditation and a BCBA must retain evidence of conventions, courses and workshops attended throughout their professional career.

BCBA-D : BOARD CERTIFIED BEHAVIOUR ANALYST AT DOCTORAL LEVEL

This qualification is similar to the BCBA qualification, except for the following. The BCBA-D has achieved a doctoral level degree in ABA or related field in human service and has ten years post-doctoral experience working in ABA, or has taught ABA at university level for two years.

BCaBA – BOARD CERTIFIED ASSISTANT BEHAVIOUR ANALYST

A BCaBA is international recognised as an Assistant Behaviour Analysis. A BCaBA qualification indicates a significant amount of specialised training and education in the methods of ABA; however, the BCaBA is a lower qualification than the BCBA. The qualification requires a primary degree in a third level institution and specialised training in ABA methods at postgraduate level for approximately one year. This involves coursework in ABA, supervised practical experience in real-world settings, and a certification examination at the associate level.

The significant difference between a BCBA and BCaBA qualification is that a BCaBA is not qualified to work as an independent practitioner; however, he or she may assist a BCBA in designing and supervising interventions. A BCaBA should operate under the supervision of a fully qualified BCBA and this is particularly important when treating individuals with severe challenging behaviour or self-injurious behaviour (SIB). Continuing education is essential for maintaining this accreditation and BCaBAs must retain evidence of conventions, courses and workshops attended throughout their professional career.

Ph.D. IN PSYCHOLOGY

A Ph.D. is a fourth level educational qualification that subsumes approximately seven years study and includes conducting research of a standard that is publishable. A Ph.D in psychology means that the individual has studied psychology for both the undergraduate degree and the postgraduate doctoral degree. The title of Doctor cannot be awarded to a psychologist who has taken a primary degree in another subject and not in psychology. This is designed as a protection under EU legislation because a psychologist is likely to work with vulnerable individuals. A psychologist may be familiar with ABA methods, but cannot be assumed to be an expert in ABA unless he or she has satisfied all the requirements set forth by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board it terms of coursework and practical experience.

Further information on professional qualifications and ethical guidelines can be obtained at the following sites:

Board Analyst Certification Board

Psychology Society of Ireland

American Psychological Association

British Psychological Society