One of the primary credentials in the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA) is called the Registered Behavior Technician. This credential was developed by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. As a registered behavior technician (also known as an RBT), the individual must understand and know how to implement all items on the RBT Task List.
In our last post, RBT Study Topics: Documentation and Reporting (Part 1 of 2), we covered the first two items on the RBT Task List in the documentation and reporting category. These two items were:
- E-01 Report other variables that might affect the client (e.g., illness, relocation, medication).
- E-02 Generate objective session notes by describing what occurred during sessions.
To continue discussing the Documentation and Reporting skills identified for RBTs, this article will be covering the following items:
- E-03 Effectively communicate with supervisor.
- E-04 Comply with applicable legal, regulatory and workplace reporting requirements (e.g., mandatory abuse and neglect reporting).
- E-05 Comply with applicable legal, regulatory and workplace requirements for data collection, storage and transportation.
E-03 Effectively communicate with supervisor
Although ABA professionals often work on receptive and expressive communication skills with their clients, we often times forget that these skills are also important for ourselves, as well. Registered Behavior Technicians (and BCBAs and BCaBAs, as well) should have effective receptive and expressive communication skills. Since an RBT and their supervisor must be in communication to help the client achieve make progress on and achieve treatment goals, it is important that an RBT communicate effectively.
Communication skills include both receptive and expressive skills. Receptive skills include things like following directions and plans and taking in information provided by the supervisor. Expressive skills include things like giving a supervisor information about the client’s functioning and progress, any concerns that are noticed, and reporting any incidents about the client. The RBT should also be able to communicate with basic ABA terminology in order to ensure that ABA principles are being utilized in practice.
RBTs may also need to communicate with their supervisor about the client’s caregivers, the client’s family, the home or community setting in which the session takes place, about coworkers and workplace issues, and much more.
Some other tips for effective communication with your supervisor include:
- Understanding boundaries in relation to your supervisor’s time and responsibilities (knowing when it is appropriate to talk with your supervisor and when you should allow your supervisor time to observe, analyze data, or complete other tasks).
- Knowing what situations should result in immediate or more urgent communication with your supervisor and knowing what situations can wait until your supervisor attends session for observation or has a meeting with you to discuss the case or client.
- Speaking respectfully and professionally.
- Accepting feedback and responding appropriately to feedback and communication from your supervisor.
- Expressing ideas and professional opinions with healthy assertiveness while also understanding your role in complying with your supervisor’s treatment planning.
E-04 Comply with applicable legal, regulatory and workplace reporting requirements (e.g., mandatory abuse and neglect reporting).
It is important to be familiar with state and federal laws regarding reporting of abuse and neglect of children and adults. Specifically, in the United States, it is likely that you will have to report to either the local police and/or child protective services if you have reasonable suspicion that abuse or neglect has occurred. Consult with a supervisor or knowledgeable individual for further direction in this area for the specific location you are working.
It is important to report any incident that you think abuse or neglect could occur. It can be a very serious issue if you do not report something that ends up truly being abuse or neglect.
Remember that it is not your role to investigate the situation. You do not need to ask further questions or try to figure out if the abuse or neglect actually did occur. That role is for the professionals who work in the line of service that you will be reporting to (such as Child Protective Services).
Be sure to document your observations in a professional manner in all necessary locations. You may need to complete an incident report and also documents specific to your agency regarding the observations and the report of abuse or neglect. It can be nerve racking to report abuse and neglect but remember that you have to follow the law (which may vary based on location) and your job is not to handle the abuse or neglect. To keep clients safe, you must report any incidence of suspected abuse or neglect (as it applies to the laws in your region).
E-05 Comply with applicable legal, regulatory and workplace requirements for data collection, storage and transportation.
There are laws and regulations regarding how to handle paperwork including data collection and documents specifically as it relates to how to store them and how to travel with them.
If you provide home-based services, it is imperative that you be careful when travelling with client documentation. Be mindful of confidentiality laws. Carry as little client data and documents as you need while you travel. Whatever you do travel with should be carefully stored such as by locking it in a travel briefcase and possibly even in your truck (think of it as locking the data twice – once in the briefcase and once in the trunk). However, again, this is not to be taken as legal advice. You should speak to a supervisor or knowledgeable person in your area to learn about the specific regulations related to your location and workplace setting.
In the United States, you must comply with all HIPAA policies and regulations. HIPAA requires that a client’s data and paperwork and identifying information be kept confidential and protected. You should store client data sheets, session notes, and paperwork in a secure location. You should always put them back after a session so that they are kept in that safe location.
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