Welcome to the OHABA student page!
You did it! You have started your coursework as a step in your journey to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and become an independent provider of behavior-analytic services. We’d like to welcome you to our field and be a support to you along the way, because while it won’t be easy, it will be a worthwhile achievement!
In addition to the specific coursework required and the graduate degree in an acceptable field of study, you must gain supervised experience and pass a competency exam to become a BCBA or BCaBA.
Supervised experience is a critical element on the road to BCBA or BCaBA—and is one that raises many questions, requires monitoring of procedural details, and can at times be experienced as a stressor for students. The Ohio Association for Behavior Analysis (OHABA) Student committee wants to help individuals who are seeking certification and receiving supervision navigate this process more efficiently and with less stress!
Here are some FAQs (and answers!) about supervised experience – what it is, how long it is, common pitfalls. We will concentrate on independent fieldwork as this is the most common route to accumulate hours. Feel free to contact the OHABA Student Committee and we’ll do our best to support you and obtain answers to other questions you may have. We strongly encourage you to become familiar with the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) website at www.BACB.com. The information on the BACB website is carefully prepared and reflective of years of navigating other trainees through the process. Reaching out to the BACB early in your journey can save troubles later down the road.
What is Supervised Experience?
To become a BCBA/BCaBA, supervision is required. Supervision ensures that you as a future professional are knowledgeable in the direct application of ABA, as well as indirect services. Supervisors assist you in acquiring new behavior-analytic skills related to the appropriate elements on the BACB Task list. Your Supervisor must be qualified to provide you with Supervised Experience. You may get supervision in a small group of others on the same journey as you.
What Kinds of Experiences Count?
If you are providing direct services (i.e. you are implementing behavioral programs others have designed) those hours may not count for more than 50% of your total accrued experience hours. Your Supervisor must see you with a client in the natural environment each supervisory period, and while in-vivo observation of you is preferred, you may use videoconferencing, videotape, etc.
Your Supervisor will determine if your activities qualify to be included as hours toward your Supervised Experience.
Which Experience Category should I choose and how long will it take to complete?
There are 3 Experience categories to become a BCBA. For each type below you must earn at least 10 hours per week but no more than 30 hours per week. You can only accrue experience in 1 category at a time each supervision period – while you can generally combine categories, the details are more complex so please contact the BACB for additional assistance.
- Supervised Independent Fieldwork (SIF).
- 1500 hours of Supervised Experience.
- Each Supervised period is 2 weeks long
- You must have Supervision at least once during that 2 weeks
- 5% of your total hours spent in SIF
- 1000 hours of Supervised Experience within a BACB approved University program taken for academic credit
- Each Supervised period is 1 week long
- You must have Supervision at least once during that week
- 5% of your total hours spent in Practicum
- Intensive Practicum
- 750 hours of Supervised Experience within a BACB approved University program taken for academic credit
- Each Supervised period is 1 week long
- You must have Supervision at least twice during that week
- 10% of your total hours spent in Practicum
- How do I find a supervisor? How do I know they can supervise me? – To find BCBA supervisors in my area, I can access a list of BCBA supervisors from the BACB website. This will provide me a list of BCBAs in my area. Another option may be to explore supervision opportunities at my current placement or job if I am providing behavior analytic services.
- Is there a cost? – Many times if you are not receiving supervision through your employer there may be a charge. The cost of supervision varies from region of the country, city and by supervisor. If you are obtaining this supervision from your employer, there may be some agreement of continuing with the agency for a specific amount of time following the completion of supervision hours.
Prior to supervision starting, you must have signed a contract with your supervisor(s). Your supervisor(s) should have a contract that that use with all of their supervisees that you will sign. Be sure to read the contract and understand the terms of your agreement. The BACB has sample contracts and the basics of things that should be covered in it.
- What doesn’t count as supervised experience?
Activities that are not the direct implementation of or fall under that scope of behavior analytic services. Examples of things that will not count – staff meetings that do not include discussion of services, talking about scheduling with supervisor, travel time, etc.
- Why do I need to track individual vs group supervision?
This is an important distinction in your supervision. You may get supervision in a small group, but this can be no more than 50% of your supervision during a review period. So if you meet with your supervisor for 1 hour individually and participate in group supervision for 1.5 hours, you can only count 1 hour of your group supervision.
- Not tracking supervision meetings
Each supervision meeting with your supervisor will need to have a completed supervision form indicating the exact dates of supervision, duration of meetings, distinction between individual and group times, topics or skills identified and discussed, and signed by both you and your supervisor. The BACB has a template for this supervision form to be used. It is best to have these completed and signed each supervision meeting. Your contract with your supervisor should determine how these are completed and within what time period.
- Can I have more than one supervisor?
It is permissible to utilize multiple supervisors and/or settings within a given time-frame in order to meet these experience requirements. In such cases, all parties must take great care to ensure that the supervision contract includes all relevant parties and clearly defines all roles and responsibilities. In cases where multiple supervisors share responsibility for a supervisee’s experience, they may jointly sign a single Experience Verification Form attesting to the experience as a whole.
- What happens if my supervisor won’t sign my forms?
If a supervisee is unable to obtain the signature of a supervisor on the Experience Verification Form or disagrees with the total number of hours recorded on the form, the supervisee may supplement his or her application with proof of the following: a. A copy of the supervisory contract b. Copies of the signed Experience Supervision Forms completed during the experience c. Letters or other documentation from third parties who observed the supervisory relationship
What are the Experience Standards?
Supervision will look different depending on who your supervisor is. There are some rules from the Board of Behavior Analysis. Only up to half of your fieldwork hours can come from direct services with a client. Other fieldwork hours come from indirect services such as data collection and analysis, research, intervention development and behavior analytic meetings with other professionals.
What are my responsibilities toward supervision?
When you seek out supervision, you should ask yourself a couple questions:
- Am I getting valuable experience? Am I getting what I need out of my supervision?
- Have I established an ethical and productive supervisory relationship with my supervisor?
While supervisors should be helpful partners in establishing a useful field experience, it is also the responsibility of the supervisee to advocate for what they need. Supervisees should make certain that they obtain a supervision contract that outlines the parameters of the supervision. When not receiving enough supervision, or if the supervision experiences do not seem to be meeting the spirit and intent of what the BACB outlines, the supervisee should come forward and advocate for appropriate, ethical supervised experience. It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that we are becoming the best behavior analysts we can be, by receiving the best training we can arrange.
One of the first activities you should complete with your supervisor is to determine how you will progress through the tasks list and setting up the structure for your supervisory meetings. The goal is to have a variety of experiences and opportunities to apply skills learned through your coursework in a real-world environment where you can get feedback on your performance.
A last concern recently brought to my attention is the seeking of employment following completion of your coursework. Employers will not hire one as a Behavior Analyst who has not completed the coursework and required supervision. Some employers may hire if you have taken the exam and are awaiting results. If you have completed the coursework but have yet to begin supervision requirements, you will be acknowledged for your degree but cannot call yourself a behavior analyst until the exam is passed.
Click Here for an example completed Supervision Form