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What is the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts?

 The Association of Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA) is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote and advance the science-based practice of applied behavior analysis. APBA carries out that mission by

  • Representing the interests of appropriately credentialed professional and paraprofessional practitioners of applied behavior analysis
  • Providing support and resources to appropriately credentialed professional and paraprofessional practitioners of applied behavior analysis
  • Working with federal, state, governmental, and third party entities to enhance recognition of appropriately credentialed professional and paraprofessional practitioners of applied behavior analysis
  • Working with federal, state, governmental, and third party entities to support the needs of appropriately credentialed professional and paraprofessional practitioners of applied behavior analysts
  • Providing education opportunities to appropriately credentialed professional and paraprofessional practitioners of applied behavior analysts
  • Providing resources to professionals and paraprofessionals in other fields and to consumers of behavior analytic services concerning the practice of applied behavior analysis Bringing professionals, paraprofessionals, consumers, and vendors together at national and regional meetings
  • Supporting improvements in and access to services provided by professional and paraprofessional practitioners of applied behavior analysis
  • Promoting public understanding of the professional practice of behavior analysis.

The APBA is a membership organization. There are multiple classes of membership. BACB-credentialed members must hold a current credential issued by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc. Other classes of membership do not require certification. They include memberships for other professionals, consumers, and students of applied behavior analysis.

Nonprofit scholarly or professional organizations may be Affiliates of APBA.

Why does behavior analysis need the APBA?

The professionalization of applied behavior analysis has emerged from a number of influences. An accumulating research base has continued to improve the field’s capabilities. Other professions, public and private service providers, and the culture at large have become more aware of the capabilities of this science-based technology. A growing demand for effective intervention for individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and other conditions has driven more consumers and employers to seek behavior analytic services. Colleges and universities have responded to these demands by establishing professional training programs in applied behavior analysis.

The formation of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc. (BACB) in 1998 played a major role in this professionalization movement. Its development of educational and training standards and an international credentialing process, based on extensive input from the field, has defined what it means to be a professional practitioner of applied behavior analysis. Consumers of services now have an identifiable indicator of quality when choosing providers. Employers now have a means of identifying individuals who meet the training standards set by the profession, and the demand for those holding BACB credentials has increased. Governmental agencies and health insurance companies are now recognizing those credentials.

The cadre of BACB-credentialed professionals is growing rapidly, with about 1,000 people obtaining BACB certification each year. Not surprisingly, more than 95% of certificants retain their credentials each year. Roughly 80% of those individuals graduate from programs offering BACB-approved course sequences, and the recent growth in college and university programs offering courses that meet one of the eligibility requirements to sit for BACB certification exams shows no sign of abating.

The increasing number of BACB-credentialed practitioners, together with increasing recognition of and demand for their services, has both highlighted longstanding needs associated with professional practice in this field and created new ones. Perhaps the central issue is assuring the right of credentialed behavior analysts to practice independently of other professions. Other needs central to professional interests include

  • Increasing recognition of and support for BACB credentials
  • Monitoring and influencing state, provincial, national, and international legislation
  • Influencing actions of regulatory agencies Improving representation of the field in the media
  • Supporting the formation and strengthening of state, provincial, and national professional organizations
  • Increasing the number of universities training behavior analyst practitioners and the number of graduates of these programs Increasing resources available to practitioners

These needs are explicitly professional in nature, and meeting them requires an organization focused on professional practitioner interests. Other organizations in behavior analysis are appropriate for other purposes. For instance, as the field’s scholarly and scientific organization, the Association for Behavior Analysis International includes basic and applied researchers as well as practitioners. However, it has become clear that the rapid growth of the practice sector of the field demands an organization that is focused exclusively on serving the needs of professional practitioners. Although the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc. is an international organization concerned with professional interests, it is a credentialing body rather than a membership organization, and is constrained in its involvement in certain activities by virtue of its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. In fact, credentialing bodies such as the BACB are usually adjuncts to professional organizations, which serve the full array of interests of their credentialed professional members.

The unique needs of professional practitioners can only be effectively addressed with the capabilities and resources of an organization that is international in its reach. Although state, regional, and provincial organizations play a critical role in supporting professional interests, representation of the field’s interests at a larger level requires an organization that can bring the resources of an international membership to this focus. An international organization for professional practitioners can pursue the collective interests of state, provincial, and national organizations with organizations representing other professions, with government agencies, and through the political process. APBA was founded in 2007 to address those needs. The founding Board of Directors included

Jon S. Bailey, PhD, BCBA-D
Judy Favell, PhD, BCBA-D
Richard M. Foxx, PhD, BCBA-D
Gina Green, PhD, BCBA-D
James M. Johnston, PhD, BCBA-D (founding President)
Raymond G. Romanczyk, PhD, BCBA-D
Dennis Russo, PhD
Jerry Shook, PhD, BCBA-D

How does APBA interface with other organizations?

APBA is an independent organization whose mission is closely related to the interests of other organizations in the field of behavior analysis. Because APBA focuses on supporting the needs of BACB-credentialed professional practitioners, it works closely with the BACB.

APBA also works to build cooperative relationships with other organizations in the field of behavior analysis, as well as those in related fields. One of APBA’s major initiatives involves developing close and supportive relationships with national, regional, state, and provincial organizations serving professionals in applied behavior analysis. Another is to collaborate with organizations representing consumers of applied behavior analysis services. Of course, ABAI is the field’s oldest organization, and APBA is committed to collaborating with ABAI in ways that serve the overlapping interests of the two organizations and their members.

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San Diego, CA 92108