A Registered Behavior Technician is an individual who works under the close supervision of a BCBA, BCaBA, or FL-CBA to implement behavior-analytic services to patients and clients. Often referred to as an RBT, they are in high demand through the ABA therapy spectrum.
First and foremost, Behavior Technicians (BT’s) are a passionate group of people who go above and beyond to help those in need with respect to behavior related issues and feeling heard. And although they all have this in common, the field of Applied Behavior Analysis has several levels of professionals, depending on one’s educational background. First there is the Behavior Technician, who works directly with the patient/client and practices under the supervision of a Certified professional, such as a BCaBA or a BCBA.
What Does An RBT Do?
RBTs play a critical role in providing mental health services to patients who are struggling with various behavioral problems. This can include things like:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Psychiatric disorders
- Substance abuse
It’s important to note that an RBT does not create plans or treatment strategies. They play a critical role, in implementing the treatment techniques created by a BCBA or BCaBA who supervises them and services a wide variety of patients.
In some cases, a registered RBT might help their supervisor in this process of creating a therapy play, or they may simply be given the plan once it has been made. This all depends on the training and leadership style of the BCBA or BCaBA. RBT’s job duties are determined by their supervisor and typically include things like:
- Helping the patient develop healthy social skills
- Helping families cope with the diagnosis
- Helping the patient reduce negative behaviors
- Data collection
- Reporting data to BCBA or BCaBA Supervisor
- Certain patients might need more focus in one area over another
A BCaBA, Board Certified (assistant) Behavior Analyst, is a Bachelor’s level behavior professional who supervises client/patient cases under the tutelage of a BCBA
A BCBA, Board Certified Behavior Analyst, is a Masters level, or Doctorate level professional who supervises client/patient cases and oversees the work of a BCaBA.
Behavior Technicians can be supervised by both BCaBA’s and BCBA’s
Behavior Technicians can also become Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT), a certification offered by the Behavior Analysts Certification Board (BACB). The RBT is quickly becoming the standard in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis and widely recognized as a necessary certification to do the job.
A Behavior Technician offers their services to patients who struggle with mental health, Autism, and other related disorders, specifically with behavior issues. They help to implement treatment plans and work one-on-one with patients at hospitals, schools, mental health facilities, treatment centers, or patients’ homes. They are responsible for assisting Behavior Analysts to implement behavior reduction and skill acquisition treatment plans. Most commonly in the form of ABA Therapy (Applied Behavior Analysis) for children with autism. They consult with family members and other caregivers in order to provide guidance and ensure progress, analyzing daily data collection and decision-making based on the data collected.
RBTs Help A Patient Develop Healthy Social Skills
Many individuals who seek out or who are referred for ABA therapy often struggle with social skills on some level. Many of these individuals are on the autism spectrum and need the assistance of an RBT or BCBA.
At this level, the RBT helps the patient work on their social skills and interactions. This might be something as simple as ordering a meal at a restaurant or knowing how to interact appropriately in a group setting or a one-on-one conversation.
RBTs Help Families Cope With A Diagnosis
A lot of ABA therapy plans require a substantial amount of family participation. This is especially true for diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder or similar behavioral disorders that can be challenging at first for families to know how to deal with.
A parent might be worried about their child’s ability to adjust. They might feel emotions such as anger and sadness. Siblings might need help understanding the diagnosis and how they can participate or even feel concerned or perhaps jealous of all of the extra attention the affected child is receiving.
An RBT Helps Patients Reduce Negative Behaviors
One of the primary roles of any behavior analyst is to reduce negative behaviors. Though for a BCBA to do this they must first observe the patient, either in a classroom or another ordinary setting. They need to know exactly what happens immediately following the negative behavior. This information helps to determine whether the behavior is repeated, and how to relate to stimulus. An RBT can help with these observations, collecting the data and reporting it to the supervising BCBA to help them develop a treatment plan to reduce the patient’s negative behaviors throughout a wide range of environments.
Keeping Records & Reporting Data
RBTs also play a critical role in keeping records and reporting collected data to the BCBA or BCaBA who supervises them and is ultimately responsible for developing an effective treatment plan. These plans must be recorded so that the BCBA can see what has worked and what has not, and so they can change plans to reflect these observations.
Working With Patients
A lot of RBTs work closely with patients under the supervision of the attending BCBA or BCaBA. They help with interactions, building social skills, and working with families to facilitate positive outcomes through the strategies the BCBA creates in the overarching treatment plan. This can be a responsibility that is as challenging as it is rewarding.
What Disorders Do RBTs Help Treat?
While it is true that many applied behavior analysis therapies are designed to help individuals with autism spectrum disorder, ABA principles can be applied to a wide range of other behavioral disorders. This means that an RBT might be involved in a treatment plan for disorders like:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Panic disorder
Becoming an RBT under the supervision of an ABA specialist like a BCBA or BCaBA is somewhat of a streamlined path. It is a credential that can be applied to other disciplines in the mental or mental health profession.
It requires the individual to be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or an equivalent GED.
At that point, the candidate will need to participate in 40 hours of education, which is spread out over the course of several weeks or perhaps months. The individual needs to be able to pass a background check and will undergo a supervised assessment with an accredited ABA specialist. Before being granted an RBT certification, the candidate will need to pass a comprehensive test.
It’s also important to note that the RBT candidate must satisfy all aspects of the RBT Ethics Code, which includes:
- Responsible conduct
- Professional responsibility to clients
- Service delivery
Upon completion of all facets of training, meeting ethics requirements as well as passing the examination and competency assessment the candidate can be approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. This might also require a face-to-face interview, recorded videos, or live interaction via the internet.
Several different task-related categories must be satisfied and verified by an assessor. They include:
- Skill acquisition
- Behavior reduction
- Documentation & Reporting
- Professional conduct
- An understanding of the scope of practice
Many people who earn their RBT certification either do so to add to their resume, as part of another discipline in the medical or mental health industry. Many individuals who earn their RBT accreditation who come from outside the healthcare industry often see the RBT credential as a first step toward earning further ABA accreditation as they seek higher education.