As a certification organization, the BACB is not authorized to provide ethical guidance on specific cases or respond to individual requests for interpretation of the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts (Code) or the RBT Ethics Code. Although this might seem counterintuitive, the rationale is that doing so could compromise the ability of the BACB to enforce the Code through its disciplinary mechanisms. This is why it is customary in many professions for ethical guidance to be provided by professional associations and other bodies.
If a BACB applicant or certificant is suspected of having violated the Code, individuals who may need to eventually report the matter should take the following steps.
- Seek out a trusted colleague or expert to understand the nuances of the situation. Retain written or permanent documentation of any ethical guidance obtained in the event that a report related to the case is filed in the future.
- Review Section 7.02 of the Code to ensure that any responsibilities as a notifier have been followed.
- Research other reporting requirements that may be relevant in the geographic region where the alleged violation occurred, or related to legal requirement (e.g., mandated reporter). For example, behavior analysis is regulated in the majority of US states and may require reporting to a state licensure/regulatory board. For more information about regulation of behavior analysts, the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA) has a resource page on licensure and regulation.
Ethics-Related Newsletter Articles
The BACB occasionally publishes interpretations and elaborations of the Code in BACB Newsletter. These articles have been indexed and are available online.
A Summary of Ethics Violations and Code-Enforcement Activities: 2016-2017
This document summarizes the ethics violations and code-enforcement activities based on the Notices of Alleged Violation received in the first two years under the Code.
Ethical guidance from other sources is being provided for general information. The BACB does not endorse, represent, or warrant the resources listed below as being comprehensive or applicable to individual circumstances.
ABA Ethics Hotline
This resource allows interested parties to submit ethics-related questions and receive direct guidance from a panel of ethics experts.
APBA Ethics Challenges
ABPA’s newsletter, APBA Reporter, which is available to members, periodically includes articles that describe ethical dillemas and share guidance for addressing with them.
Practical Ethics for Effective Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Brodhead, Cox, & Quigley (2018)
A Workbook of Ethical Case Scenarios in Applied Behavior Analysis
Sush & Najdowski (2019)
Analyzing Ethics Questions from Behavior Analysts: A Student Workbook (1st Edition)
Bailey & Burch (2019)
Understanding Ethics in Applied Behavior Analysis: Practical Applications (1st Edition)
Beirne & Sadavoy (2019)
Journal Articles since 2003 (in reverse chronological order)
Graber, A., & O’Brien, M. (in press). The promise of accountable care organizations: “The code,” reimbursement, and an ethical no-win situation for behavior analysts. Behavior Analysis in Practice.
Kelly, M. P., Martin, N., Dillenburger, K., Kelly, A. N., & Miller, M. M. (in press). Spreading the news: History, successes, challenges and the ethics of effective dissemination. Behavior Analysis in Practice.
LeBlanc, L. A., Nosik, M. R., & Petursdottir, A. (in press). Establishing consumer protections for research in human service agencies. Behavior Analysis in Practice.
Lee, G. T., Williams, D. E., Simons, J., & Johnson-Patagoc, K. (in press). The right to effective treatment for people with developmental disabilities and severe problem behaviors. BehaviorAnalysis: Research and Practice.
Maragakis, A., Lindeman, S., & Nolan, J. (in press). Evidence based intensity specific services in the integrated care setting: Ethical considerations for a developing field. BehaviorAnalysis: Research and Practice.
Phu, W., & Byrne, T. (in press). Testimonials on the web: Evidence for violations of the professional and ethical compliance code for behavior analysts. Behavior Analysis:Research and Practice.
Quigley, S. P., Blevins, P. R., Cox, D. J., Brodhead, M. T., & Kim, S. Y. (in press). An evaluation of explicit ethical statements in telehealth research with individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice.
Witts, B. N., Brodhead, M. T., Adlington, L. C., & Barron, D. K. (in press). Behavior analysts accept gifts during practice: So now what? Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice.
Brodhead, M. T., Quigley, S. P. & Cox, D. J. (2018). How to identify ethical practices in organizations prior to employment. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 11,165-173.
O’Leary, P. N., Miller, M. M., Olive, M. L., & Kelly, A. N. (2017). Blurred lines: Ethical implications of social media for behavior analysts. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 10,45-51.
Newhouse-Oisten, M. K., Peck, K. M., Conway, A. A., & Freider, J. A. (2017). Ethical considerations for interdisciplinary collaboration with prescribing professionals. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 10, 145-153.
Pollard, J. S., Karimi, K. A., & Ficcaglia, M. B. (2017). Ethical considerations in the design and implementation of a telehealth service delivery model. Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice, 17, 298-311
Romani, P. W., & Schieltz, K. M. (2017). Ethical considerations when delivering behavior analytic services for problem behavior via telehealth. Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice, 17, 312-324.
Wiskirchen, R. R., Deochand, N., & Peterson, S. M. (2017). Functional analysis: A need for clinical decision support tools to weigh risks and benefits. Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice, 17, 325-333.
Fong, E. H., Catagnus, R. M., Brodhead, M. T., Quigley, S., & Field, S. (2016). Developing the cultural awareness skills of behavior analysts. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 9, 84-94.
Sellers, T. P., Alai-Rosales, S., & MacDonald, R. P. F. (2016). Taking full responsibility: The ethics of supervision in behavior analytic practice. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 9, 299-308.
Broadhead, M. T. (2015). Maintaining professional relationships in an interdisciplinary setting: Strategies for navigating nonbehavioral treatment recommendations for individuals with autism. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 8, 70-78.
Brodhead, M. T., & Higbee, T. S. (2012). Teaching and maintaining ethical behavior in a professional organization. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 5(2), 82-88.
Schreck, K. A., & Miller, V. A. (2010). How to behave ethically in a world of fads. Behavioral Interventions, 25,307-324.
Hastings, R., & Noone, S. (2005). Self-injurious behavior and functional analysis: Ethics and evidence. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 40,335-342.
Hemingway, M. (2003). Do no harm—An ethical dilemma and one possible way out. The Behavior Analyst Today, 4, 151-153.doi:10.1037/h0100115