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What is an Applied Behavior Analyst?

Image of a therapist and client for our FAQ What is an Applied Behavior Analyst?

As explained by the National Institutes of Health, an applied behavior analyst is a professional who specializes in applied behavioral analysis, which is a discipline combining clinical psychology and education. These professionals use their expert knowledge in behavioral modification to assist clients dealing with a wide range of developmental and mental health conditions to lead healthier, more productive lives. Keep reading to learn more about this important position and the field in which such professionals are employed.

About Applied Behavioral Analysis

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is used to treat those dealing with conditions that might not allow them to fully participate in forms of psychotherapy that require more active participation and analysis. Individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities frequently respond well to this form of therapy. The applied behavior analyst can treat such individuals in the home, school, residential placement or clinical setting. The goal of behavior analysis is to reduce unwanted or unhealthy behaviors, while increasing ones that are desired. Practitioners in the field use behavioral techniques and strategies to achieve these goals over time. A treatment plan is devised, then followed and modified based on the client’s performance and individual needs.

How to Become an ABA

A degree at the Master’s level is required to become an ABA. In addition, each state has different certification requirements. It’s common for professionals to be credentialed through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) prior to being allowed to practice. Along with the requisite education, a practical experience is necessary before being able to sit for the BACB certification exam. A practicum or other type of certified experience that allows hands-on work in the field will fill the requirement. Each institution spells out needed criteria in their program lists. If an individual doesn’t hold a degree that requires such an experience, they will need to complete the supervised hours on their own time. Various types of educational programs are offered with different areas of specialization. They can result in a Master’s of Art, Science or Education, depending on the emphasis.

Job Opportunities

Applied behavioral analysis is a therapeutic modalities that has gained a great deal of traction in recent years to become a widely recognized treatment option. It’s proven beneficial in helping individuals with various developmental issues overcome them to live more productive lives. Behavioral analysis practitioners can become licensed in a large number of states. Professionals with an academic background in ABA are qualified to work across settings and can perform a wide variety of roles. They can serve as counselors in settings such as residential treatment facilities, client homes, schools and medical institutions. They might work one-on-one with clients or provide group work, as well. In addition, careers in education such as those of special education assistant are possible. As are research positions, supervisory practitioners and direct care positions such as that of social worker.Those with knowledge of applied behavioral analysis can be quite beneficial in a number of capacities.

Entering this profession requires a great deal of time and dedication, as a Master’s and potential certification are required. However, it can be a rewarding career that provides a secure income and satisfying job path. An applied behavior analyst has a variety of career options and specializations from which to choose.

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