Is the BCBA credential relevant to Organizational Behavior Management?

By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

bSci21Media, LLC

In a recent issue of Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, Molli Luke, Jim Carr, and David Wilder discuss the compatibility of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) and certifications provided by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, most notably the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential.

The authors acknowledge that the credential has historical associations with autism treatment, and point out that the vast majority of BCBAs work with the autism population.  However, they also point out that the credential itself is a certification in behavior analysis as a whole, separate from any specific population.

As it pertains to OBM, few who practice in the area have the BCBA credential, and the authors discuss many reasons for this, related to the nature of the work, pay sources, and other practical considerations.  But for those who would like to pursue certification while practicing OBM, the authors provide a way forward.

For example, they note that the current Task List, which outlines training requirements to sit for the BCBA exam, has numerous points of contact relevant to OBM practitioners.  They asserted that the Applications section in particular has immediate relevance o OBM, and the authors linked 44 of the 48 task list items to OBM citations.  Given that the Task List forms the foundation of BCBA training, the authors suggest that creating a course sequence based entirely on OBM should be readily attainable, and cite data suggesting that OBM is already being taught in many training programs.

As far as supervised fieldwork for certification, the authors point out that supervision is not restricted to any particular population, and that the requirements are purposely written broadly to accommodate different applications.  Particularly noteworthy is their discussion of supervisor qualifications.  They point out that a supervisor is not required to hold a BCBA certification, but can be an instructor in a Verified Course Sequence, or a registered psychologist with certain qualifications.  The lack of a BCBA requirement for supervisors is particularly amenable to OBM as most in the field do not currently hold the certification.

Finally, in regards to the exam itself, the authors acknowledge that many of the questions are framed in terms relevant to applications with autism and intellectual disabilities.  They suggest that this is a result of the practice emphasis of the exam that that practice scenarios in the exam naturally gravitate towards areas in which most BCBAs practice.  Nevertheless, the authors emphasized that knowledge of specific populations is not needed to answer the question correctly due to their emphasis on behavior analytic principles and methodologies.

To read more on this important issue, be sure to check out the full article from JOBM, and to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles to your inbox!

Full Reference:

Molli M. Luke, James E. Carr & David A. Wilder (2018): On the Compatibility of Organizational Behavior Management and BACB Certification, Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, DOI: 10.1080/01608061.2018.1514347

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world,  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at [email protected]

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1 Comment

  1. Good article. I am finally, after years, sitting for the BCBA this fall. Not so much because it will help me do better work, but because then I can supervise students who are interested in learning OBM. If you’re a consultant interested in training other consultants, I think this makes it worth it. It does to me, anyway.

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