CEUs for ABA Therapists
Understanding Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for ABA TherapistsHealthcare is a rewarding career which allows you to make a positive difference in the lives of others. But becoming a healthcare professional isn’t always easy. Specialized education and certification are required, which can be costly and time-consuming. But it’s important to understand medical professionals, including ABA therapists, are never truly finished learning. Even after earning a graduate degree and becoming certified by the required professional organization, you’ll still need to return to the classroom frequently. Here’s a closer look at Continuing Education Units and the role CEU ABA requirements play in effective therapy.
Why Applied Behavior Analysis Requires On-Going EducationApplied Behavior Analysis was created in the 1960s but has only recently seen a surge in popularity. ABA therapy focuses on understanding and modifying behavior in real-world settings. It’s especially effective when treating individuals on the autism spectrum. Many behavioral adjustment therapies focus heavily on techniques created in a laboratory setting. But ABA therapy is different. It emphasizes the important connection between behavior and the environment. According to Autism Speaks, ABA therapy:
- Adapts to each individual’s specific needs
- Focuses on behavior in the home, school, and community
- Teaches skills required for everyday life
CEU 101CEU stands for Continuing Education Unit. They’re classes, seminars and other events which behavior analysts are required to complete to stay certified. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board issues professional certification for two groups of people:
- BCBAs (Board Certified Behavior Analysts)
- BCBA-Ds (Board Certified Behavior Analysts – Doctoral)
BCBA Continuing Education RequirementsThe certification cycle lasts two years for both BCBAs and BCaBAs. You must meet all CEU within the appropriate two-year span. Extra units can’t apply to future years. Also, you can’t make up any lost units after the expiration date has passed. These practices ensure all information taught stays relevant. Here’s where it gets a little complicated. Continuing Education is measured in units. Different professionals require different amounts of completed units for certification. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board recognizes seven different types of continuing education such as classes, seminars, and others. But not all types are the same; they’re worth different amounts of units. Additionally, you’re not allowed to repeat courses for more units. Plus, certain types of units have mandated minimums. For instance, you’ll always have to complete at least some classroom instruction. But you can then add seminars and events. The different options allow you some leeway in selecting the type of continuing education you prefer.
Requirements for BCBAAs the most experienced professionals in an ABA setting, BCBAs require the most continuing education. Thirty-two units are required every two years. Four CEUs must be in Ethics. Additionally, supervisors are required to complete three CEUs in Supervision.
Requirements for BCaBAAssistant Behavior Analysts have a slightly easier workload. They’re required to complete 20 CEUs in the two years. Four must be in Ethics. Supervisors are required to complete three Supervision CEUs. Note that BCaBAs aren’t particularly common in the industry. They often earn significantly less than a BCBA, but the education requirements aren’t significantly easier. Many industry professionals recommend earning a BCBA instead of a BCaBA.
The 7 Types of Approved Continuing Education
Type 1 – College or University CourseworkClassroom learning is the most common, and usually most familiar, type of CEU. BCBAs must complete courses at the graduate level, while BCBAs can choose from both graduate or undergraduate level courses. All courses must be directly related to behavior analytics. Additionally, classes must be taken at a BACB-approved college or university. You must submit both a course syllabus and transcript to claim continuing education credit. Fifty minutes of classroom instruction earns the student one continuing education unit. Generally, this works out to 15 CEUs per semester. College coursework has no CEU limit. You can earn all the required units through classroom instruction if you wish.
Type 2 – Authorized EventsCompleting certain events authorized by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board also earns CEUs. These events are provided by various sponsors, not the BACB directly. You can earn all the required units this way. A certificate or letter from the Authorized Continuing Education provider is required to claim credit.
Type 3 – Non-Authorized EventsYou can also earn units by completing seminars, conferences, workshops, symposiums and other events directly related to behavior analysis – even if the BACB does not specifically authorize the event. A signed and dated certificate is required to claim credit. Attending non-authorized events can earn up to 25% of the total required units.
Type 4 – InstructionYou don’t have to be a student to earn CEUs. Teaching either a Type 1 or Type 2 event can earn them, too. CEUs are earned on a one-time basis for each event, provided you were present (but not necessarily teaching) for the entire time. Up to half of the total required hours can be earned via Instruction. You’ll need to provide either a letter from the department chair, on official university letterhead, or a letter from the Authorized Continuing Education coordinator.
Type 5 – BACB EventsThe BACB provides a variety of events which you can attend to earn units. Events include seminars, conferences, and other activities. You can earn up to 25% of the total units this way. Authorization for these hours is provided from the BACB directly via the attendee’s unique BACB Gateway Account.
Type 6 – ExamThe certification board offers an exam you can take during the final year of the certification cycle. BCBAs take a BCBA exam; BCaBAs take a BCaBA exam. You don’t have to take the exam at all, but it can be the easiest and fastest option. If you pass the exam, all continuing education requirements are satisfied. But if you fail, you’ll lose certification completely. Even if you’re confident in your understanding of the material, taking the exam can be a bit risky. You don’t want to lose certification simply because you had a bad experience on test day.
Type 7 – Scholarly ActivitiesYou can earn units by publishing ABA-related articles in a peer-reviewed journal. You can also earn hours by servings as a reviewer or editor of such an article for a peer-reviewed journal. These CEU credits can only be claimed for the cycle when the published articles appeared. Writing the published articles is worth eight hours of continuing education. Reviewing a published article is worth one CEU. Up to 25% of continuing education units can be earned through Scholarly Activities.
Total Required Continuing EducationNo more than 75% of total CEU can come from Non-Authorized Events, Instruction, BACB Events, and Scholarly Activities. At least one-quarter of the hours must be from Classroom Instruction and Authorized Events.
EthicsEthical issues related to behavior analytics play an important role in continuing education. The BACB has created a list of ethics requirements to incorporate into instruction. Common topics include:
- Creating an ethical culture in an organization
- Ethical issues related to technology and media
- Ethical implementation of non-behavioral therapies