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What is ABA?

Information on this page is to help educate consumers of behaviour analytic services. We want to give you the information that can help you to identify services and service providers that are using up to date and ethical practices within the field of behaviour analysis.

What is Applied Behaviour Analysis

“Applied behavior analysis is the science in which tactic derived from the principles of behavior are applied systematically to improve socially significant behavior and experimentation is used to identify the variables that are responsible for behavior change.” (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, p. 20)

Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) is the science of human behaviour. It is an objective field that focuses on evaluation and reliable measurement. Interventions are designed, implemented, and evaluated systematically to improve behaviours that are important to society.

The effectiveness of an individualised ABA-based intervention is implemented as follows:

  • a specific behaviour is targeted to increase or decrease;
  • goals that are measurable and objective are identified for the target behaviour;
  • method of measuring the target behaviour is set up;
  • current levels of the behaviour is measured; this called a baseline;
  • an intervention for the target behaviour is designed and then implemented;
  • effectiveness of intervention is determined by continuous measurement of the target behaviour; and
  • adjustments are made, as needed, to maintain and/or increase the effectiveness the intervention.

New Infographic: What is ABA

Click here for a copy:  What is ABA Infograph.pdf


Check out the 2020 survey results!


Yes, there is the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) that is the professional certification board. BACB oversees the certification process for individuals wishing to be recognised as a behaviour analyst. Certification in the field of behaviour analysis began in Florida, USA in the 1990’s, became a nationally recognized certification in the USA in 1998, and then internationally recognised certification occurred in 2000.

The purpose of this certification is to provide a minimum standard to be qualified to practice applied behaviour analysis. 

The BACB certifies individuals at three different levels they are BCBA-D, BCBA, BCaBA. The three different levels of certification represent different amount of university course work and supervised field experience.

Currently, there are over 44,000 BCBA practicing around the world.


BCBA stands for “Board Certified Behavior Analyst”. The process of becoming a BCBA involves a few steps. First, one must obtain a Master’s degree in a field related to behaviour analysis. Second, one must take 270 hours of graduate courses in ABA and complete 1500 hours of supervised field experience hours. 

Then one must submit an application for approval, if approved, a standardised test is taken. The entire process takes about 2 years.

Need to find a BCBA? Click here


BCBA-D stands for “Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral” and is a credential in ABA for individuals who have a PhD in behaviour analysis or related discipline.

Individuals who hold a BCBA-D once held a BCBA and have since met the requirements to become certified at the doctoral level.


BCaBA stands for “Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst”. This certification is for individuals who have an undergraduate degree in a field related to behaviour analysis, have taken 180 hours of university classroom instruction in ABA, obtained 1000 of supervised field experience, submitted an application for approve and passed a standardised test. As of 2009, BCaBA must practice under the supervision of a BCBA.

While certification does not guarantee competence, it identifies the minimal standards that should be met by practitioners who describe themselves as “behaviour analysts” or state that they provide “behavioural intervention” or other types of intervention based on the principles of behaviour analysis. 

BCBA-Ds, BCBAs, and BCaBAs must stay up to date in the research and practice of ABA. They complete continuing education units in order to maintain their certification and stay informed of recent developments in ABA practice and research.

To find out more about what a BCBA-D, BCBA, or BCaBA specifically does, please refer to the BACB website, found on the links and resource page.


From the Autism SIG website

The Autism Special Interest Group (SIG) of the Association for Behavior Analysis International asserts that all children and adults with autism and related disorders have the right to effective education and treatment based on the best available scientific evidence. The Autism SIG further recommends that consumers seek to determine if those who claim to be qualified to direct ABA programs for people with autism actually meet minimum standards. These standards can be found within the “Revised Guidelines for Consumers of Applied Behavior Analysis Services to Individuals with Autism and Related Disorders.” 

To download click here

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board also provides recommendations for healthcare funders and mangers in regards to the of ABA with individuals with autism spectrum disorder. To download click here



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