+1443 776-2705 panelessays@gmail.com

Michael is a BCBA that has worked with a family for over (5) years. Recently, his learner has entered adolescence and he has started to exhibit behaviors best categorized as “hyperactivity”. The family read about Omega-3 supplements and started an aggressive, but medically safe dosage schedule. This regimen requires the vitamin be given after school at the clinic. The clinic currently has a medication administration protocol, but Michael is concerned with the BACB code and non-supported interventions. Should Michael provide the supplement?

Ethics Code for
Behavior Analysts
The Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts (Code) replaces the Professional and Ethical
Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts (2014). All BCBA and BCaBA applicants
and certificants are required to adhere to the Code effective January 1, 2022.

This document should be referenced as: Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2020). Ethics code for behavior analysts.
Littleton, CO: Author.
Copyright © 2020, BACB®, All rights reserved.

Behavior Analyst Certification Board | Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts | 2Updated 09/2021, Copyright © 2020, BACB® | All rights reserved.

Table of Contents
Introduction ……………………………………………………………… 3

Scope of the Code ……………………………………………………………………………………… 3
Core Principles …………………………………………………………………………………………… 4
Application of the Code ……………………………………………………………………………… 5
Enforcement of the Code …………………………………………………………………………… 6

Glossary ………………………………………………………………….. 7
Ethics Standards ………………………………………………………. 9

Section 1—Responsibility as a Professional ……………………………………………… 9

1.01 Being Truthful ………………………………………………………………………………. 9
1.02 Conforming with Legal and Professional Requirements……….. 9
1.03 Accountability……………………………………………………………………………… 9
1.04 Practicing within a Defined Role ………………………………………………. 9
1.05 Practicing within Scope of Competence ………………………………… 9
1.06 Maintaining Competence ………………………………………………………….. 9
1.07 Cultural Responsiveness and Diversity …………………………………… 9
1.08 Nondiscrimination ………………………………………………………………………. 9
1.09 Nonharassment ………………………………………………………………………….. 9
1.10 Awareness of Personal Biases and Challenges ……………………… 9
1.11 Multiple Relationships ………………………………………………………………… 10
1.12 Giving and Receiving Gifts ……………………………………………………….. 10
1.13 Coercive and Exploitative Relationships ………………………………… 10
1.14 Romantic and Sexual Relationships…………………………………………. 10
1.15 Responding to Requests …………………………………………………………… 10
1.16 Self-Reporting Critical Information …………………………………………… 10

Section 2—Responsibility in Practice ……………………………………………………… 10

2.01 Providing Effective Treatment…………………………………………………. 10
2.02 Timeliness ………………………………………………………………………………… 10
2.03 Protecting Confidential Information ………………………………………. 10
2.04 Disclosing Confidential Information …………………………………………11
2.05 Documentation Protection and Retention ………………………………11
2.06 Accuracy in Service Billing and Reporting ……………………………..11
2.07 Fees …………………………………………………………………………………………….11
2.08 Communicating About Services ………………………………………………11
2.09 Involving Clients and Stakeholders …………………………………………11
2.10 Collaborating with Colleagues ………………………………………………….11
2.11 Obtaining Informed Consent ………………………………………………………11
2.12 Considering Medical Needs ……………………………………………………..12
2.13 Selecting, Designing, and Implementing Assessments ………..12
2.14 Selecting, Designing, and Implementing Behavior-

Change Interventions ……………………………………………………………………12
2.15 Minimizing Risk of Behavior-Change Interventions ……………….12
2.16 Describing Behavior-Change Interventions

Before Implementation …………………………………………………………………12
2.17 Collecting and Using Data …………………………………………………………12
2.18 Continual Evaluation of the Behavior-Change Intervention ….12
2.19 Addressing Conditions Interfering with Service Delivery ……..12

Section 3—Responsibility to Clients and Stakeholders ………………………….13

3.01 Responsibility to Clients…………………………………………………………….13
3.02 Identifying Stakeholders …………………………………………………………..13
3.03 Accepting Clients………………………………………………………………………13
3.04 Service Agreement …………………………………………………………………..13
3.05 Financial Agreements ………………………………………………………………13

3.06 Consulting with Other Providers ……………………………………………..13
3.07 Third-Party Contracts for Services …………………………………………..13
3.08 Responsibility to the Client with Third-Party Contracts

for Services …………………………………………………………………………………….13
3.09 Communicating with Stakeholders About Third-Party

Contracted Services ……………………………………………………………………..14
3.10 Limitations of Confidentiality …………………………………………………….14
3.11 Documenting Professional Activity ……………………………………………14
3.12 Advocating for Appropriate Services ………………………………………14
3.13 Referrals ………………………………………………………………………………………14
3.14 Facilitating Continuity of Services …………………………………………….14
3.15 Appropriately Discontinuing Services ……………………………………..14
3.16 Appropriately Transitioning Services ……………………………………….14

Section 4—Responsibility to Supervisees and Trainees ………………………..15

4.01 Compliance with Supervision Requirements ………………………….15
4.02 Supervisory Competence ………………………………………………………..15
4.03 Supervisory Volume …………………………………………………………………15
4.04 Accountability in Supervision …………………………………………………..15
4.05 Maintaining Supervision Documentation ……………………………….15
4.06 Providing Supervision and Training ………………………………………..15
4.07 Incorporating and Addressing Diversity …………………………………15
4.08 Performance Monitoring and Feedback ………………………………..15
4.09 Delegation of Tasks ………………………………………………………………….15
4.10 Evaluating Effects of Supervision and Training ………………………16
4.11 Facilitating Continuity of Supervision ………………………………………..16
4.12 Appropriately Terminating Supervision ……………………………………16

Section 5—Responsibility in Public Statements ………………………………………16

5.01 Protecting the Rights of Clients, Stakeholders,
Supervisees, and Trainees …………………………………………………………..16

5.02 Confidentiality in Public Statements ……………………………………….16
5.03 Public Statements by Behavior Analysts………………………………..16
5.04 Public Statements by Others …………………………………………………..16
5.05 Use of Intellectual Property ……………………………………………………..16
5.06 Advertising Nonbehavioral Services ……………………………………..16
5.07 Soliciting Testimonials from Current Clients

for Advertising ………………………………………………………………………………. 17
5.08 Using Testimonials from Former Clients for Advertising …….. 17
5.09 Using Testimonials for Nonadvertising Purposes ………………… 17
5.10 Social Media Channels and Websites …………………………………….. 17
5.11 Using Digital Content in Public Statements …………………………….. 17

Section 6—Responsibility in Research …………………………………………………….. 17

6.01 Conforming with Laws and Regulations in Research ……………. 17
6.02 Research Review ……………………………………………………………………… 17
6.03 Research in Service Delivery ………………………………………………….. 17
6.04 Informed Consent in Research ……………………………………………….18
6.05 Confidentiality in Research………………………………………………………18
6.06 Competence in Conducting Research …………………………………..18
6.07 Conflict of Interest in Research and Publication ……………………18
6.08 Appropriate Credit ……………………………………………………………………18
6.09 Plagiarism …………………………………………………………………………………..18
6.10 Documentation and Data Retention in Research …………………..18
6.11 Accuracy and Use of Data …………………………………………………………18

Behavior Analyst Certification Board | Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts | 3Updated 09/2021, Copyright © 2020, BACB® | All rights reserved.

Introduction
As a diverse group of professionals who work in a variety of practice areas, behavior analysts deliver applied behavior
analysis (ABA) services to positively impact lives. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (BACB®) exists to meet the
credentialing needs of these professionals and relevant stakeholders (e.g., licensure boards, funders) while protecting ABA
consumers by establishing, disseminating, and managing professional standards. The BACB facilitates ethical behavior in the
profession through its certification eligibility and maintenance requirements, by issuing the ethics standards described in this
document, and by operating a system for addressing professional misconduct.
The Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts (Code) guides the professional activities of behavior analysts over whom the BACB
has jurisdiction (see Scope of the Code below). The Code also provides a means for behavior analysts to evaluate their own
behavior and for others to assess whether a behavior analyst has violated their ethical obligations. An introduction section
describes the scope and application of the Code, its core principles, and considerations for ethical decision making. The core
principles are foundational concepts that should guide all aspects of a behavior analyst’s work. The introduction is followed
by a glossary that includes definitions of technical terms used in the Code. The final section includes the ethics standards,
which are informed by the core principles. The standards are organized into six sections: 1) Responsibility as a Professional,
2) Responsibility in Practice, 3) Responsibility to Clients and Stakeholders, 4) Responsibility to Supervisees and Trainees, 5)
Responsibility in Public Statements, and 6) Responsibility in Research.

Scope of the Code

The Code applies to all individuals who hold Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) or Board Certified Assistant Behavior
Analyst® (BCaBA®) certification and all individuals who have completed an application for BCBA or BCaBA certification. For the
sake of efficiency, the term “behavior analyst” is used throughout this document to refer to those who must act in accordance
with the Code. The BACB does not have separate jurisdiction over organizations or corporations.
The Code applies to behavior analysts in all of their professional activities, including direct service delivery, consultation,
supervision, training, management, editorial and peer-review activities, research, and any other activity within the ABA
profession. The Code applies to behavior analysts’ professional activities across settings and delivery modes (e.g., in person;
in writing; via phone, email, text message, video conferencing). Application of the Code does not extend to behavior analysts’
personal behavior unless it is determined that the behavior clearly poses a potential risk to the health and safety of clients,
stakeholders, supervisees, or trainees.

Specific terms are defined in the Glossary section; however, two definitions are provided here because they are
frequently used in the Core Principles section.

Client: The direct recipient of the behavior analyst’s services. At various times during service provision, one or
more stakeholders may simultaneously meet the definition of client (e.g., the point at which they receive direct
training or consultation). In some contexts, the client might be a group of individuals (e.g., with organizational
behavior management services).
Stakeholder: An individual, other than the client, who is impacted by and invested in the behavior analyst’s
services (e.g., parent, caregiver, relative, legally authorized representative, collaborator, employer, agency or
institutional representative, licensure board, funder, third-party contractor for services).

Behavior Analyst Certification Board | Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts | 4Updated 09/2021, Copyright © 2020, BACB® | All rights reserved.

Core Principles

Four foundational principles, which all behavior analysts should strive to embody, serve as the framework for the ethics
standards. Behavior analysts should use these principles to interpret and apply the standards in the Code. The four core
principles are that behavior analysts should: benefit others; treat others with compassion, dignity, and respect; behave with
integrity; and ensure their own competence.

1. Benefit Others. Behavior analysts work to maximize
benefits and do no harm by:

• Protecting the welfare and rights
of clients above all others

• Protecting the welfare and rights of
other individuals with whom they
interact in a professional capacity

• Focusing on the short- and long-term
effects of their professional activities

• Actively identifying and addressing the potential
negative impacts of their own physical and
mental health on their professional activities

• Actively identifying potential and actual conflicts
of interest and working to resolve them in
a manner that avoids or minimizes harm

• Actively identifying and addressing factors
(e.g., personal, financial, institutional, political,
religious, cultural) that might lead to conflicts
of interest, misuse of their position, or negative
impacts on their professional activities

• Effectively and respectfully collaborating
with others in the best interest of those
with whom they work and always
placing clients’ interests first

2. Treat Others with Compassion, Dignity, and
Respect. Behavior analysts behave toward others
with compassion, dignity, and respect by:

• Treating others equitably, regardless of factors
such as age, disability, ethnicity, gender
expression/identity, immigration status, marital/
relationship status, national origin, race,
religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic
status, or any other basis proscribed by law

• Respecting others’ privacy and confidentiality
• Respecting and actively promoting

clients’ self-determination to the best of
their abilities, particularly when providing
services to vulnerable populations

• Acknowledging that personal choice in service
delivery is important by providing clients
and stakeholders with needed information
to make informed choices about services

3. Behave with Integrity. Behavior analysts fulfill
responsibilities to their scientific and professional
communities, to society in general, and to the
communities they serve by:

• Behaving in an honest and trustworthy manner
• Not misrepresenting themselves,

misrepresenting their work or others’
work, or engaging in fraud

• Following through on obligations
• Holding themselves accountable for their work

and the work of their supervisees and trainees,
and correcting errors in a timely manner

• Being knowledgeable about and upholding
BACB and other regulatory requirements

• Actively working to create professional
environments that uphold the core
principles and standards of the Code

• Respectfully educating others about
the ethics requirements of behavior
analysts and the mechanisms for
addressing professional misconduct

4. Ensure their Competence. Behavior analysts ensure
their competence by:

• Remaining within the profession’s
scope of practice

• Remaining current and increasing
their knowledge of best practices and
advances in ABA and participating in
professional development activities

• Remaining knowledgeable and current about
interventions (including pseudoscience)
that may exist in their practice areas
and pose a risk of harm to clients

• Being aware of, working within, and continually
evaluating the boundaries of their competence

• Working to continually increase their knowledge
and skills related to cultural responsiveness
and service delivery to diverse groups

Behavior Analyst Certification Board | Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts | 5Updated 09/2021, Copyright © 2020, BACB® | All rights reserved.

Application of the Code

Behavior analysts are expected to be knowledgeable about and comply with the Code and Code-Enforcement Procedures.
Lack of awareness or misunderstanding of an ethics standard is not a defense against an alleged ethics violation. When
appropriate, behavior analysts should inform others about the Code and Code-Enforcement Procedures and create
conditions that foster adherence to the Code. When addressing potential code violations by themselves or others, behavior
analysts document the steps taken and the resulting outcomes. Behavior analysts should address concerns about the
professional misconduct of others directly with them when, after assessing the situation, it seems possible that doing so will
resolve the issue and not place the behavior analyst or others at undue risk.
The BACB recognizes that behavior analysts may have different professional roles. As such, behavior analysts are
required to comply with all applicable laws, licensure requirements, codes of conduct/ethics, reporting requirements (e.g.,
mandated reporting, reporting to funding sources or licensure board, self-reporting to the BACB, reporting instances of
misrepresentation by others), and professional practice requirements related to their various roles. In some instances,
behavior analysts may need to report serious concerns to relevant authorities or agencies that can provide more immediate
relief or protection before reporting to the BACB (e.g., criminal activity or behavior that places clients or others at risk for
direct and immediate harm should immediately be reported to the relevant authorities before reporting to the BACB or a
licensure board).
The standards included in the Code are not meant to be exhaustive, as it is impossible to predict every situation that might
constitute an ethics violation. Therefore, the absence of a particular behavior or type of conduct from the Code standards
does not indicate that such behavior or conduct is ethical or unethical. When interpreting and applying a standard, it is critical
to attend to its specific wording and function, as well as the core principles. Additionally, standards must be applied to a
situation using a functional, contextualized approach that accounts for factors relevant to that situation, such as variables
related to diversity (e.g., age, disability, ethnicity, gender expression/identity, immigration status, marital/relationship status,
national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status) and possible imbalances in power. In all instances
of interpreting and applying the Code, behavior analysts should put compliance with the law and clients’ interests first by
actively working to maximize desired outcomes and minimize risk.
Ethical decision making. Behavior analysts will likely encounter complex and multifaceted ethical dilemmas. When faced with
such a dilemma, behavior analysts should identify problems and solutions with care and deliberation. In resolving an ethical
dilemma, behavior analysts should follow the spirit and letter of the Code’s core principles and specific standards. Behavior
analysts should address ethical dilemmas through a structured decision-making process that considers the full context of the
situation and the function of relevant ethics standards. Although no single ethical decision-making process will be equally
effective in all situations, the process below illustrates a systematic approach behavior analysts can take to document and
address potential ethical concerns.

1. Clearly define the issue and consider potential risk of harm to relevant individuals.
2. Identify all relevant individuals.
3. Gather relevant supporting documentation and follow-up on second-hand information to confirm that there is an

actual ethical concern.
4. Consider your personal learning history and biases in the context of the relevant individuals.
5. Identify the relevant core principles and Code standards.
6. Consult available resources (e.g., research, decision-making models, trusted colleagues).
7. Develop several possible actions to reduce or remove risk of harm, prioritizing the best interests of clients in

accordance with the Code and applicable laws.

Throughout all of the following steps, document information that may be essential to decision making or for
communicating the steps taken and outcomes (e.g., to the BACB, licensure boards, or other governing agencies).
For example, consider documenting: dates, times, locations, and relevant individuals; summaries of observations,
meetings, or information reported by others. Take care to protect confidentiality in the preparation and storage of all
documentation.

Behavior Analyst Certification Board | Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts | 6Updated 09/2021, Copyright © 2020, BACB® | All rights reserved.

8. Critically evaluate each possible action by considering its alignment with the “letter and spirit” of the Code, its
potential impact on the client and stakeholders, the likelihood of it immediately resolving the ethical concern, as well
as variables such as client preference, social acceptability, degree of restrictiveness, and likelihood of maintenance.

9. Select the action that seems most likely to resolve the specific ethical concern and reduce the likelihood of similar
issues arising in the future.

10. Take the selected action in collaboration with relevant individuals affected by the issue and document specific
actions taken, agreed-upon next steps, names of relevant individuals, and due dates.

11. Evaluate the outcomes to ensure that the action successfully addressed the issue.

Enforcement of the Code

The BACB enforces the Code to protect clients and stakeholders, BCBA and BCaBA certificants and applicants, and the ABA
profession. Complaints are received and processed according to the processes outlined in the BACB’s Code-Enforcement
Procedures document.

Behavior Analyst Certification Board | Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts | 7Updated 09/2021, Copyright © 2020, BACB® | All rights reserved.

Glossary
Assent
Vocal or nonvocal verbal behavior that can be taken to
indicate willingness to participate in research or behavioral
services by individuals who cannot provide informed consent
(e.g., because of age or intellectual impairments). Assent may
be required by a research review committee or a service
organization. In such instances, those entities will provide
parameters for assessing assent.

Behavior Analyst
An individual who holds BCBA or BCaBA certification or
who has submitted a complete application for BCBA or
BCaBA certification.

Behavior-Change Intervention
The full set of behavioral procedures designed to improve
the client’s wellbeing.

Behavioral Services
Services that are explicitly based on the principles and
procedures of behavior analysis and are designed to change
behavior in meaningful ways. These services include, but are
not limited to, assessment, behavior-change interventions,
training, consultation, managing and supervising others, and
delivering continuing education.

Client
The direct recipient of the behavior analyst’s services.
At various times during service provision, one or more
stakeholders may simultaneously meet the definition of
client (e.g., the point at which they receive direct training
or consultation). In some contexts, the client might be a
group of individuals (e.g., with organizational behavior
management services).

Clients’ Rights
Human rights, legal rights, rights codified within behavior
analysis, and organization rules designed to benefit
the client.

Conflict of Interest
An incompatibility between a behavior analysts’ private
and professional interests resulting in risk or potential risk
to services provided to, or the professional relationship
with, a client, stakeholder, supervisee, trainee, or research
participant. Conflicts may result in a situation in which
personal, financial, or professional considerations have the
potential to influence or compromise professional judgment
in the delivery of behavioral services, research, consultation,
supervision, training, or any other professional activity.

Digital Content
Information that is made available for online consumption,
downloading, or distribution through an electronic medium
(e.g., television, radio, ebook, website, social media,
videogame, application, computer, smart device). Common
digital content includes documents, pictures, videos, and
audio files.

Informed Consent
The permission given by an individual with the legal right
to consent before participating in services or research, or
allowing their information to be used or shared.

Service/Research: Providing the opportunity for an
individual to give informed consent for services or
research involves communicating about and taking
appropriate steps to confirm understanding of: 1) the
purpose of the services or research; 2) the expected
time commitment and procedures involved; 3) the
right to decline to participate or withdraw at any time
without adverse consequences; 4) potential benefits,
risks, discomfort, or adverse effects; 5) any limits to
confidentiality or privacy; 6) any incentives for research
participation; 7) whom to contact for questions or
concerns at any time; and 8) the opportunity to ask
questions and receive answers.
Information Use/Sharing: Providing the opportunity
for an individual to give informed consent to share or
use their information involves communicating about: 1)
the purpose and intended use; 2) the audience; 3) the
expected duration; 4) the right to decline or withdraw
consent at any time; 5) potential risks or benefits; 6)
any limitations to confidentiality or privacy; 7) whom to
contact for questions or concerns at any time; and 8) the
opportunity to ask questions and receive answers.

Legally Authorized Representative
Any individual authorized under law to provide consent
on behalf of an individual who cannot provide consent to
receive services or participate in research.

Multiple Relationship
A comingling of two or more of a behavior analyst’s roles
(e.g., behavioral and personal) with a client, stakeholder,
supervisee, trainee, research participant, or someone closely
associated with or related to the client.

Behavior Analyst Certification Board | Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts | 8Updated 09/2021, Copyright © 2020, BACB® | All rights reserved.

Public Statements
Delivery of information (digital or otherwise) in a public
forum for the purpose of either better informing that
audience or providing a call-to-action. This includes paid or
unpaid advertising, brochures, printed material, directory
listings, personal resumes or curriculum vitae, interviews, or
comments for use in media (e.g., print, statements in legal
proceedings, lectures and public presentations, social media,
published materials).

Research
Any data-based activity, including analysis of preexisting
data, designed to generate generalizable knowledge for the
discipline. The use of an experimental design does not by
itself constitute research.

Research Participant
Any individual participating in a defined research study for
whom informed consent has been obtained.

Research Review Committee
A group of professionals whose stated purpose is to review
research proposals to ensure the ethical treatment of human
research participants. This committee might be an official
entity of a government or university (e.g., Institutional Review
Board, Research Ethics Board), an independent committee
within a service organization, or an independent organization
created for this purpose.

Scope of Competence
The professional activities a behavior analyst can consistently
perform with proficiency.

Social Media Channel
A digital platform, either found through a web browser or
through an application, where users (individuals and/or
businesses) can consume, create, copy, download, share,
or comment on posts or advertisements. Both posts and
advertisements would be considered digital content.

Stakeholder 
An individual, other than the client, who is impacted by and
invested in the behavior analyst’s services (e.g., parent,
caregiver, relative, legally authorized representative,
collaborator, employer, agency or institutional
representatives, licensure board, funder, third-party
contractor for services).

Supervisee
Any individual whose behavioral service delivery is overseen
by a behavior analyst within the context of a defined, agreed-
upon relationship. Supervisees may include RBTs, BCaBAs,
and BCBAs, as well