What is the Difference Between a BCBA and a BCBA-D?

If your child receives applied behavior analysis (ABA) services in a therapeutic preschool program, they may be provided by either a BCBA or BCBA-D. While these credentials sound very similar there are a few important differences to know.

What is a BCBA?
A BCBA is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. A BCBA works with individuals to provide behavior analysis services, which can be incredibly successful for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The goal of ABA therapy is to build positive behaviors and reduce problematic behaviors by determining the root cause of specific behaviors. BCBAs frequently use the ABA approach in their practices, since this method of therapy is evidence-based with empirical results. ABA therapy can also be tailored for a wide range of individuals of different ages, ability levels, and needs. A BCBA can work in a variety of settings, including a school, therapeutic preschool program, private practice, homes, hospitals, or more. ABA therapy can be provided in a wide variety of settings, as well, and BCBAs can provide parents and families with helpful strategies to use in the home, outside of a therapy session, in order to reinforce consistency with techniques.

What are the requirements for a BCBA certification?
As we learn more about autism and related disorders, the field of behavior analysis is growing, with more individuals earning the BCBA certification. So, what does the road to becoming a BCBA look like exactly? The educational requirements for a BCBA are a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree. While your major does not have to be in a specific area of study for the undergraduate degree, the graduate degree must be in one of the following areas: behavior analysis, education, or psychology. There are also certain requirements for courses set by the BACB (Behavior Analysts Certification Board) for aspiring BCBAs. In addition to the education component, there is an “experience” component, which requires aspiring BCBAs to complete a certain number of hours under the supervision of a fully certified BCBA or BCBA-D. The last step in the process is applying for and passing the BCBA exam. Once you have passed the BCBA exam, you do not have to practice under supervision.

What is a BCBA-D?
A BCBA is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who has earned their PhD, in addition to their Master’s (and Bachelor’s) degree.

What are the requirements for a BCBA-D?
There is a list of doctorate programs that are verified by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). A BCBA who wishes to become a BCBA-D would earn their doctoral degree from one of the schools on this list

Do a BCBA and BCBA-D provide different ABA services?
BCBAs and BCBA-Ds can both provide the same ABA therapy services. The primary difference between a BCBA and BCBA-D is simply the level of degree.

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