Ethics are important and necessary for any human service field. Ethics help to ensure quality services as well as that people are treated fairly and appropriately when receiving services.
Behavior analysts, credentialed by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, must comply with the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts.
This document provides guidelines for service providers to follow when they provide applied behavior analysis services. This includes ABA parent training or ABA-based parent coaching services.
ABA providers must comply with the entire code, but below are some examples of ethical guidelines that you may encounter when providing ABA parent training. This list gives you an idea of things to consider in regards to ethics.
5 Ethical Guidelines to Consider in ABA Parent Training
(1) 1.01 Reliance on Scientific Knowledge.
“Behavior analysts rely on professionally derived knowledge based on science and behavior analysis when making scientific or professional judgments in human service provision, or when engaging in scholarly or professional endeavors.”
To support your efforts to rely on professionally derived knowledge based on science and behavior analysis in your ABA parent training services, you should engage in ongoing professional development opportunities.
This could be in the form of relevant continuing education trainings, informal learning opportunities such as reading the literature and consulting with more experienced colleagues, or joining the ABA Parent Training Membership Program (which includes content and resources based upon professional knowledge of science and behavior analysis).
(2) 1.05b Professional and Scientific Relationships.
“When behavior analysts provide behavior-analytic services, they use language that is fully understandable to the recipient of those services while remaining conceptually systematic with the profession of behavior analysis. They provide appropriate information prior to service delivery about the nature of such services and appropriate information later about results and conclusions.”
ABA parent trainers should make sure they are communicating with parents in ways that are understandable to the parent and not simply using technical language.
(3) 1.05f Professional and Scientific Relationships.
“Behavior analysts recognize that their personal problems and conflicts may interfere with their effectiveness. Behavior analysts refrain from providing services when their personal circumstances may compromise delivering services to the best of their abilities.”
When working with parents, it is important to engage in self-reflection. Being self-aware, aware of your own experiences, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, can help you to identify whether your personal problems and conflicts might be interfering with the effectiveness of your services.
Be sure to take appropriate action when you think that your personal life may be interfering with your work life.
(4) 1.06a Multiple Relationships and Conflicts of Interest.
“Due to the potentially harmful effects of multiple relationships, behavior analysts avoid multiple relationships.”
It’s okay to care about your clients, but you have to ensure professional boundaries are maintained. ABA services allow professionals to get to know their clients well and sometimes clients feel very connected to their service providers.
Despite this dynamic, it is important to avoid conflicts of interest and multiple relationships. Having a personal relationship or even multiple professional relationships with a parent when providing ABA parent training services with them can cause a variety of issues.
(5) 2.01 Accepting Clients.
“Behavior analysts accept as clients only those individuals or entities whose requested services are commensurate with the behavior analysts’ education, training, experience, available resources, and organizational policies. In lieu of these conditions, behavior analysts must function under the supervision of or in consultation with a behavior analyst whose credentials permit performing such services.”
When considering taking on a new client (or evaluating your current caseload), be sure that you assess whether you have the education, training, experience, and resources that support your ability to provide services to each client.
In addition to basic behavior analytic coursework in an academic program, it is likely that you will need supplemental training in ABA parent training.
This may be done through a resource such as the ABA Parent Training Membership Program which can provide you with research-supported training materials and resources to enhance your skill set and increase your competence in the area of ABA parent training. The program can also provide you with many of the resources you need to provide quality and efficient parent training.
Ethics in ABA Parent Training
We have discussed only some of the ethical guidelines that apply to ABA based parent training services. Be sure to review the compliance code and consider how the code applies to your practice as an ABA parent trainer.
Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2014). Professional and ethical compliance code for behavior analysts. Littleton, CO: Author.