The OHABA Public Policy Committee is interested in the experiences of behavior analysts whose work intersects directly with an Ohio law, rule, or regulation. In advocating for our clients and our science, we can collectively explore public policy and determine if there are barriers affecting behavior analysis in Ohio.
Nikki Powell is a licensed psychologist in three states and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst -Doctoral level. She serves the President of OHABA and her clinical interests include treatment of severe behavior disorders, behavior analytic integration in acute mental health settings, and overall diversification of practice for behavior analysts.
Nikki identified barriers to BCBAs expanding practice, “Training is the major barrier right now that inhibits BCBAs from expanding practice. As Dr. Carr frequently says, we don't need FEWER people in IDD treatment, we need MORE in other areas. Without field experience and high quality supervision and exposure, it is very difficult for BCBAs to gain the knowledge needed for confident expansion.” There are laws and policies that can impact the expansion of our field. Some states restrict the practice of BCBAs to working with certain disabilities or ages. Nikki also points out that there are a limited number of options for educational tracks, degree specific, to be eligible to sit for the BCBA exam. Those educational options often focus specifically on autism or children. Nikki states, “This can be discouraging for individuals who have started in another field, but fallen in love with ABA, in that they are now required to obtain another masters to be eligible for the exam.”
BCBAs can expand their scope of competence outside of the clinical realm. A good start can be right within their own company by focusing on quality improvement [QI]. Nikki explains, “Look at where you have the most frequent breakdowns. Is it billing submissions? Timely schedule changes? Using QI tools (references available in Powell, Valentino, Valleru, & Krisha, 2019) within your own organization to identify, monitor, and implement changes is the perfect place to start.” There are many opportunities within Ohio to engage in quality improvement work. A resource for initial exposure is the QI Tools School. This is a program that anyone can sign up for. Nikki recommended “Start learning QI online to solidify your knowledge base. From there, look for companies that have a QI department and see what those departments do and what they impact. Most Ohio hospitals have a QI team.” Promoting positive behavior change through QI tools will not only expand a BCBAs scope of competence, but naturally disseminate behavior analytic science.
There are many different directions a BCBA can take to expand the field of behavior analysis. Those directions can, however, overlap. While certain laws and policies regarding licensure may define a specific scope of practice, there needs to be a contingency of people pushing to expand the scope. Luckily in Ohio, COBA broadly defines behavior analytic work. Expanding one’s scope of competence can easily translate into expanding one’s scope of practice. One area for improvement Nikki identified is in relation to training, “If I had infinite control, I would make sure every ABA program had at least 2-3 ‘tracks’ in terms of field work, with highly skilled behavior analysts to serve as supervisors and mentors.” As BCBAs expand their competence, they can serve as supervisors and mentors in different fields.
If you have had an experience with an Ohio law, rule, or regulation and would like to share your success and or struggles, let us know! Publicpolicy@ohaba.org