Roni is now a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA)!!!
Saturday 14th July 2018
Roni passed her exam and is now fully certified!
I thought to share with you all about my journey to obtain certification and to become a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA).
What is the BACB?
First, I will explain to you where this certification comes from. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board®, Inc. (BACB®) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation established in 1998 to meet professional credentialing needs identified by behavior analysts, governments, and consumers of behavior analysis services. The BACB's certification requirements, exam content, and procedures undergo regular review according to international standards for organizations that grant professional credentials. All BACB requirements and examination content are established by content experts in the discipline (source: www.bacb.com).
They are based in the United Estates and ABA practitioners from many different countries can obtain certification via taking the different exams they offer.
There are different levels of certification and there's information on this on their website: https://www.bacb.com/become-credentialed/
To find out whether ABA Consultants are certified or to find BCaBAs and BCBAs in your area you can visit this link: https://www.bacb.com/find-a-certificant/
My BCBA Certification Journey
Alongside my existing experience, I spent two years attending a series of modules that I completed via a masters course in a university that is accredited by the BACB. These modules included principles of ABA, Research history, Ethics, Research methods, Assessments, interventions, etc. The ABA MSc I completed is called MSc in Behaviour Analysis and Therapy, via the University of South Wales, situated in the UK. Very highly recommended!
The full time masters would have been one year, but I chose to enrol on it part-time and this enabled me to continue giving my family time and to continue working as well. Saying this, I know others who have done the full-time masters under similar circumstances, but for me part-time worked better.
I went to face to face lectures two days per week and did coursework at home. After completion of the first few modules, I could then start my supervised practice in order to accrue the hours needed to take the BCBA exam and obtain my certification.
In order to obtain my MSc, I also produced a dissertation which was a result of a study I helped design and collect data for. We write the dissertation in a similar format to a research study, but it is a lot more detailed as it contain every piece of information about what you did during your study. Some dissertations become published studies and they are at times done by a group of people who are acknowledged when you present on your dissertation later on.
Please note that this has been my experience and that the BACB website will give you thorough information on this process in general. Some of this information may change over time, and there are different routes you can take that will enable you to complete your supervised practice and sit for the exam, so please make sure you visit the BACB website and that you check what you need with your own field practice supervisor if you are starting your own supervised practice.
My supervised practice route can be summarised as below:
(1) Completed MSC modules required to start supervised practice
(2) Decided how I wanted to have my hours supervised (found a supervisor)
(3) Set up my BACB account
(4) Completed a supervision module before I started my supervised practice
(5) Started accruing your hours and having regular supervision
(6) Finalised my supervised practice and had my hours signed off
(7) Sent my signed hours to the BACB and obtained the exam application number
(8) Booked the exam (this involved creating an account with the exam suppliers - Pearson Vue)
(8) Sat the exam
Supervised practice is a period of time that you spend being closely supervised in your direct work with clients and also on indirect work which include writing, implementation and design of programmes (please note that this list is not exhaustive).
During supervised practice, we push ourselves forward by putting what we learnt in the MSc into practice and diving deeper into using the science of ABA to better the lives of the clients and families we work with.
ACCRUING HOURS REQUIRED
There is a number of hours we are required to accrue before we are ready to take the exam. I had the option to choose to obtain my hours via the University where I was enrolled for the masters via a PGCert. If I had chosen this route, it would have taken me 1000 practice hours to complete my supervised practice. The University of South Wales offers this option and they will also offer you supervision.
The other option was to obtain my hours via independent practice and to find an independent supervisor. Due to my personal circumstances, I chose this option and the right option is down to what will work best for you. I needed to accrue 1500 hours via this route, find my own supervisor and to have 5% of my overall hours supervised.
The way supervision worked is that I was supervised for 5% of my time within a two week period. Each week, I could work a minimum of 10 hours per week and a maximum of 30 hours per week of both direct and indirect work. I met with my supervisor each two weeks to have that time supervised, sent her the summary of my hours and had that signed off. During these meetings I had my practice observed and we also discussed my caseload on a one to one basis.
It was possible to take holidays during this time and during this time, we just paused supervised practice and resumed when I was back. It can work flexibly and fit in with your existing job if you have chosen this option and if you are able to implement ABA based techniques within your work.
Once I completed the 1500 hours, I completed my BCBA exam application form and sent it to the BACB. They sent me an reference No and I booked the exam with Pearson Vue, after creating a personal account with them.
The whole process was wonderful for me and it helped me become better at my job as a behaviour analyst providing services to families. I had the opportunity to be supervised by two very experienced Behaviour Analysts (a BCBA-D and a BCBA) both with supervisor status from the BACB. I was pushed out of my comfort zone during this period, had my skills assessed and analysed and could also obtain support from absolute gems in the field of ABA after I finished my supervised practice, whilst I was revising the content for the BCBA exam.
REVISING FOR THE EXAM
Following my MSc and whilst doing my supervised practice, I revised the content on the BACB task list (a list of all the content we need to show we are competent at) before I sat for the exam. I used a combination of tools for this purposes. There are groups around social media where people take time voluntarily to run Zoom sessions on specific ABA topics as well.
The BACB task list can be found here: https://www.bacb.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/160101-BCBA-BCaBA-task-list-fourth-edition-english.pdf
What I found most helpful was to learn via practice with the clients and referring my practice to the task list. This helped me to learn the scientific terms and concepts more efficiently and quickly and it helped with the scenarios that I came across in the exam. I listened to ABA content in the car when I could and benefited from podcasts too! Being busy full time between my home and work, I adapted my studying to fit in with times when I could multitask. There are different tools available that will help you when you are studying for the exam and you may benefit from trying a few before you can establish what works best for you whilst you learn in practice.
Now that I am a BCBA, I will need to continue investing in my practice and accrue 32 hours of continued education over a 2 year period in order to maintain my certification. 4 of these hours will need to involve ethics training.
You can see preparing for the exam requires a lot of commitment. It is very intensive but I am glad to say that after 4 years since first starting my masters in ABA I'm here!
I accomplished this whilst looking after my family, having a child with autism and running a full ABA programme for him, setting up a new business and also whilst working. It is possible when we plan ahead and when we are flexible to do what we can within short term goals. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and looking after myself have also been helpful during this time in which I was under a lot of pressure at times.
I'm grateful for my husband, my family and friends. For my amazing son Sammy, who pushed me into equipping myself and learning about how to help him overcome his barriers to learning as well, and to our daughter Annie, big sister who has been wonderful over the years. We did this together!
I wish success to all starting or in the middle of this journey. The more certified behaviour analysts we have in the field, the more our clients and community will benefit overall.
Veronica Dunning, B.A. MSc
BCBA of Blossom ABA