What is a Behavior Analyst?

What is a Behavior Analyst?

What is a Behavior Analyst?      

The science of Behavior Analysis strives to create socially significant behavioral change in individuals by manipulating variables that contribute to that change (Cooper, Heron, Heward, 2007).  So Behavior Analysts are professionals that apply the principles of experimental analysis and use it to impart functional changes in the life of an individual or organization. Manipulating variables such as the consequence (e.g., positive reinforcement) following a behavior is one way behavior analysts achieve growth in the clients they serve. Behavior Analysts have a minimum of a Master’s degree in Behavior Analysis or a related filed such as Psychology. They must also meet a criteria of 1500 hours of supervised fieldwork and complete 270 hours of graduate level approved courses. These standards are set forth by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board to ensure that Behavior analysts are highly qualified to perform the duties of the profession.

What does a good behavior analyst look like?

A good behavior analyst is objective. They use direct observation to take data set on determined criteria and then use that data to guide intervention. All decision making is based on where the data leads. Good behavior analysts follow current research in order to be able to provide clients with the most appropriate intervention possible. In addition to this, Behavior analysts can help individuals to evaluate other treatment modalities objectively to determine their effectiveness. This is important for clients because ineffective treatments can lead to a waste of time and monetary resources and can also impede positive behavioral change.  Behavior analysts only serve populations that they have proper experience and training to serve. For example, a behavior analyst working with adults with eating disorders would not be qualified to work with toddlers with Autism unless they underwent more training to effectively serve those clients. Behavior analysts should maintain high ethical standards by following the rules set forth by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Some of these include being truthful, avoiding dual relationships, clearly communicating fees, putting the rights of the client first, maintaining confidentiality, and informing clients of their rights using common language. Further examples can be found at http://www.bacb.com/Downloadfiles/BACB_Compliance_Code.pdf

Who do they serve?

Behavior analysts work in many different areas to target behavioral change. Most people correlate behavior analysis with servicing the autism community, but this is just one population that behavior analysts work with. Behavior analysts often work with individuals with addictions, obesity, traumatic brain injury, and other disabilities. Behavior analysts may also work with school districts or officials to provide training and consultation.  They work in large and small organizations to help with productivity, staff relations, and other interpersonal issues in the workplace.




Cooper, J., Heron, T.E, & Heward, W.L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.



About the Author

Dacey Carr is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She holds a Graduate Certificate in Behavior Analysis from the University of North Texas and a Masters degree in Psychology from The University of Phoenix. She has over ten years experience implementing ABA therapy for children with Autism, with a focus on early intervention. Dacey's past experience includes implementation of therapy with Behavior Analysis, staff training and evaluation, supervising and training of peer groups in a inclusion setting, parent training, development and implementation of lesson plans for inclusion classrooms and working as an 1:1 aide in a Special Education Classroom. She has experience in home, center based, and school programs and has worked with children from ages two-sixteen. Dacey is a member of Autism Tennessee and the Association for Professional Behavior Analysts.

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