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with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

RBT Study Topics: Professional Conduct (Part 2 of 2)

The credential of the Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) is required to abide by the RBT Task List. This task list was developed by the BACB (Behavior Analyst Certification Board).

One of the areas that an RBT  should be familiar with is the area of professional conduct.

You can review the RBT Task List on the BACB website.

The Professional Conduct category includes:

  • F-01 Describe the role of the RBT in the service delivery system.
  • F-02 Respond appropriately to feedback and maintain or improve performance accordingly.
  • F-03 Communicate with stakeholders (e.g., family, caregivers, other professionals) as authorized.
  • F-04 Maintain professional boundaries (e.g., avoid dual relationships, conflicts of interest, social
  • media contacts).
  • F-05 Maintain client dignity.

In our previous post, we discussed F-01: Describe the role of the RBT in the service delivery system and F-02: Respond appropriately to feedback and maintain or improve performance accordingly. In this post, we will focus on F-03: Communicate with stakeholders, F-04: Maintain professional boundaries, F-05: Maintain client dignity.

F-03 Communicate with stakeholders (e.g., family, caregivers, other professionals) as authorized

A Registered Behavior Technician’s primary task is to implement ABA intervention as designed by their supervisor (typically a BCBA or BCaBA). RBTs do not often provide formal communication with stakeholders. However, any communication that takes place must be respectful and professional in nature. Sometimes an RBT may participate in team meetings with the client’s caregiver and sometimes other professionals, such as teachers or other service providers like speech therapists or occupational therapists. As an RBT, it is important to remember that your supervisor should be making all clinical decisions regarding the case you are working on. An RBT should support the supervisor and direct any questions or concerns from the caregiver to the supervisor for further assistance above what the RBT has already been trained to respond to. In a school meeting (such as for an IEP-Individualized Education Plan meeting), an RBT may participate to give their input as to the status of ABA services, but all decisions and recommendations should come from the supervisor. RBTs should display respectful and professional communication at all times.

F-04 Maintain professional boundaries (e.g., avoid dual relationships, conflicts of interest, social

media contacts)

It is essential to maintain professional boundaries in any human service position. However, as an RBT, you may become attached to your client due to the intensity and involvement you have with the family. However, it is important to always remember what your role is and that you are providing a professional service. Do not develop any relationship outside the professional service provider – client relationship. To avoid dual relationships or conflicts of interest be sure to keep conversation to professional topics. Do not speak very in depth about any personal issues (no more than enough to maintain a friendly, professional manner). If possible, do not provide clients or caregivers your personal phone number. If you personally know a potential client, it is important to avoid working with that individual if possible. Sometimes in rural communities, extra steps may be necessary to establish professional boundaries. Do not have contact with clients or their relatives on social media. This is important to help maintain the professional boundaries of the service provider – client relationship.

F-05 Maintain client dignity

Dignity refers to “the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.” All people have the right to dignity and respect. Dignity is not something that people have to earn. They don’t have to behave a certain way to be treated with dignity. All people have the right to be treated with dignity. To treat people with dignity and maintain client dignity, consider your attitude, behavior, compassion, and dialogue. You can maintain a client’s dignity by showing respect at all times, maintaining privacy and confidentiality, and communicating effectively and professionally. You can also offer your client’s choices and allow them to be an active participation in treatment development.

Do not talk down to your clients or belittle them. Always treat your client as a human people and not just a number or a problem. Don’t speak to your clients in non-professional ways such as by being overly friendly or overly aggressive. Make sure that your personal views and judgments do not interfere with providing quality treatment or create a problem with maintaining client dignity. For example, if you personally have an issue with parents who smoke and you are working with a client who has a mother who smokes often, don’t allow your personal views to interfere with how you treat that client and his family.

Your behavior toward clients and their family must be based on kindness and respect. Avoid having side conversations (or small talk) with coworkers when you are supposed to be focusing on your client (which should be at all times during the time you are providing a service). Be compassionate and empathetic toward your clients. This means that you should act in ways that show you are aware of your client’s feelings and experiences and that you are understanding of their situation and are truly trying to help them (You’re not just there for the money.) Your dialogue with a client should be focused on them as a person and not just another client.

The area of professional conduct requires that RBTs act in ways that are respectful and considerate of their clients. Communicating with stakeholders must be done in an appropriate manner. You should only communicate with stakeholders in ways that you, as the RBT, have been directed to. Maintaining professional boundaries and client dignity is an essential part of providing quality ABA services.

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RBT Study Topics: Professional Conduct (Part 2 of 2)


APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2019). RBT Study Topics: Professional Conduct (Part 2 of 2). Psych Central. Retrieved on July 21, 2019, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/child-therapist/2019/03/rbt-study-topics-professional-conduct-part-2-of-2/