Behavior Analysis is the scientific study of the principles of learning and behavior. This field of science is concerned with describing, understanding, predicting, and changing behavior. They seek answers by looking at the biological and environmental factors, although they are primarily interested in the role of environment in behavior change.

There are three main branches to the field: Conceptual Behavior Analysis, Experimental Behavior Analysis, and Applied Behavior Analysis. The Conceptual branch focuses on the philosophical, theoretical, historical, and methodological issues that underlie the field. Experimental Behavior Analysis involves basic research intended to add to the body of knowledge about phenomena that control and influence behavior. Applied Behavior Analysis is focused on the application of the principles of behavior to the needs of individuals to promote behavior change and improve quality of life.

How broad is the application of behavior analysis?

The application of behavior analysis is very broad, ranging from assisting individuals in overcoming drug addiction to improving the workplace for organizations. Behavior analysis has been applied to programs related to diet, exercise, juvenile delinquency, toilet training, education, skill acquisition, behavior reduction, organizational structures, and more.

Is behavior analysis becoming more widely accepted?

Over the past 60 years, applied behavior analysis has become recognized as the treatment of choice for behavior problems associated with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, brain injury, and other disorders. Many people also recognize that applied behavior analysis is capable of producing remarkable results in classroom learning. In recent years, interest in the field has grown especially rapidly outside the United States; ABA International has over 5,000 members from nearly 50 countries and its affiliated chapters have a total membership of about 13,000 worldwide.

What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?

The Science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), is an empirically-validated or evidence based approach to teaching using behavioral principles, laws and strategies, backed by over 60 years of research. Typically ABA is applied to teaching children, adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, behavioral disorders or challenges, speech impairment and mental health disorders. ABA can be used to improve skill areas or behaviors and/or decrease maladaptive behaviors that are socially significant for the family and student, client or child.

Who can benefit from Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services?

Any individual who is interested in behavior change, whether skill acquisition or behavior reduction, including persons with developmental disabilities can benefit from Behavior Analysis treatment or services. Teaching procedures derived from our science can be applied in any natural environment including homes, special and general education classrooms, community-based activities and during therapy services such as Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy. ABA is a data-driven science that provides teaching strategies that result in measurable outcomes for consumers.

What skills can be learned using behavioral principles and strategies of Applied Behavior Analysis?

Numerous skill areas can be addressed such as:

  • Academic Skills such as reading, writing and math.
  • Language Skills such as requesting, labeling and conversation.
  • Hygiene Skills such as toileting, grooming and dressing.
  • Activities of Daily Living (ADL) skills such as eating, meal preparation and doing laundry.
  • Community skills such as walking in a store, shopping, sitting in a restaurant, ordering a meal, and street safety skills
  • Social skills such as building relationships, interacting with peers, building play with others, sibling play and learning appropriate social rules.
  • Recreation skills such as riding a bike, swimming, learning to ski, bowling, martial arts and using playground equipment.
  • Creative skills such as art, painting and learning a music instrument.
  • Technical skills such as using a computer, surfing the internet and computer based activities such as visual art design.
  • Coping skills such as emotional regulation and self-monitoring.

Where do I find research supporting treatment using Applied Behavior Analysis?

Please visit our links page to access information about journals and books in Behavior Analysis.

What is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)?

A Board Certified Behavior Analyst is a Master’s or Doctorate Level professional who has specifically studied the Science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), with specific coursework requirements, as well as completion of supervised experience in a fieldwork setting engaging in Behavior Analytic activities and passed a national certification exam in Behavior Analysis. BCBA’s are specialized in the field of Behavior Analysis.

For more information about Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA’s) or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBA’s) in New Mexico and around the world, including credentials and requirements of Behavior Analysts, please visit the Behavior Analyst Certification Board website at www.bacb.com.

Are there any consumer guidelines for choosing a Behavior Analyst?

The Autism Special Interest Group (Autism SIG) developed a document to help guide consumers on the qualifications of Behavior Analysts to work with children with Autism. Consumers (parents or professionals) of behavior analytic services may benefit from the information recommended in this document.

Click here to access PDF file.

Is a Behavioral Therapist or Behavior Management Specialist the same as a BCBA?

The titles Behavioral Therapist or Behavior Management Specialist do not specify certification as a behavior analyst practitioner. Anyone may use these titles to describe their work as they are not regulated terms. Individuals with a BCBA or BCBA-D have met a high standard of practice in the field of Behavior Analysis. They have completed graduate-level coursework, met experience requirements, and have passed an international certification examination. They have demonstrated understanding of the “best practice” and ethical standards of the behavior analysis profession.

While some individuals using the terms Behavioral Therapist or Behavior Management Specialist have received some formal training in Behavior Analysis, many have not. It is important for consumers to question the credentials of those employed using these terms, as some may have had little training and no formal education in Behavior Analysis.

Is there state licensing for Board Certified Behavior Analysts?

Since 1998, Behavior Analysts have been nationally credentialed by the Behavior Analysts Certification Board (BACB). The BACB is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation to meet professional credentialing needs identified by behavior analysts and consumers of behavior analysis services. Certification by the BACB establishes that the individual has met the BACB’s educational and training requirements necessary to identify him or herself as a professional Behavior Analyst. Credentialing, however is not the same as licensure, which is a process established by individual states to set requirements to practice Behavior Analysis. As of March, 2012, there are eight states with a state licensing law. New Mexico does not have a state licensing law for Behavior Analysts. There seems to be a growing trend in that direction. For more information on Behavior Analyst State Licensure Laws, visit www.bacb.com

Click here for the BACB Model Act for Licensing Behavior Analysts