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Questions to Ask Your ABA Therapist: Ensuring Effective and Ethical Treatment

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

ABA therapy with woman and girl playing with toys

When beginning Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for yourself or a loved one, it's important to find a qualified and experienced ABA therapist or Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA®) who can provide effective and ethical treatment. And it can be particularly overwhelming if you don't have any prior knowledge of the ABA field.

ABA therapy is a scientifically-proven method of behavior therapy for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities, focusing on behavior modification and skill development. To ensure you make an informed decision about your ABA therapy provider, it's crucial to ask the right questions. Let's talk about some essential questions to ask your ABA therapist during the initial consultation.

1. What certification and experience do you have as an ABA therapist or BCBA®?

One of the most critical factors in choosing an ABA therapist or BCBA® is their certification and experience. Your BCBA® must be Board Certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®. It is unethical for anyone to practice outside the realm of the BACB®. Ask about their professional credentials, such as being a BCBA® or holding any other relevant certifications. It may be beneficial for you to inquire about their experience working with individuals with similar needs or diagnoses. A therapist or BCBA® with a solid educational background and a satisfactory amount of hands-on practical experience will be better equipped to address your specific goals and concerns.

BACB® logo

2. How do you assess individuals' progress?

A comprehensive assessment is essential for designing an individualized treatment plan. Ask your ABA therapist or BCBA® about the assessment procedures they employ, including direct observations, interviews, and standardized assessments. Inquire about their data collection methods, as accurate data collection is crucial for measuring progress and making data-driven treatment decisions.

3. How do you create individualized treatment plans?

Every person with autism or a developmental disability is unique, with unique behaviors. Their treatment plans should reflect their specific needs and goals. Ask your ABA therapist or BCBA® how they develop individualized treatment plans tailored to each client. What are their first steps to create their plan? A thorough treatment plan should address both short-term and long-term goals and outline specific strategies and interventions to be used.

4. What is your approach to behavior management?

ABA therapy focuses on modifying behavior by utilizing effective behavior management techniques. Inquire about your ABA therapist or BCBA®'s approach to behavior management. They should be well-versed in positive reinforcement strategies, teaching replacement behaviors, and addressing challenging behaviors effectively. How will your BCBA® help ensure that these skills will be encouraged outside of therapy sessions?

5. How do you involve the family in the therapy process?

Family involvement is crucial for the success of ABA therapy. Conflicting methods can be detrimental to growth. Ask your BCBA® how they engage and educate families during the therapy process. What tips can they give? How often can they meet to go over their recommendations? They should provide guidance on implementing strategies and interventions at home, offer training sessions for parents and caregivers, and ensure open lines of communication for progress updates and collaboration.

family of four smiling

6. What ethical guidelines do you follow?

Ethics play a vital role in ABA therapy. It's important to work with a therapist or BCBA® who adheres to professional ethical guidelines. A person who does not follow the ethical guidelines as set by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® is not considered to be in good standing, and cannot be a practicing behavior analyst. You can ask about their methods of maintaining client confidentiality, obtaining informed consent, and respecting cultural and individual differences. (Click here to read the complete BACB® Ethics Code.)

7. How do you measure progress and adjust treatment goals?

Monitoring progress is crucial for tracking the effectiveness of ABA therapy. It is very important for a behavior analyst to track the progress an individual is making for the duration of behavior therapy. How does your BCBA® measure progress and adjust treatment goals? They should provide data and evidence with regular progress reports, conduct periodic assessments to evaluate skill acquisition, and modify the treatment plan as necessary.

computer on desk showing data in a graph

Finding the right ABA therapist or BCBA® is a critical step towards ensuring effective and ethical treatment for individuals with autism or other developmental disabilities. As with any health professional, it is definitely okay to "vet" your BCBA ® by asking any of the questions outlined in this blog post. It is possible to gain valuable insights into the behavior analyst's qualifications, approach, and commitment to personalized care. Remember, an open and transparent conversation with your potential ABA therapist or BCBA® will help you make an informed decision, and a good relationship with them will ensure a continued success.

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