Who Can Conduct A Functional Behavior Assessment?

Explore who can conduct a functional behavior assessment, their training, legal considerations, and importance.

judah schiller
Judah Schiller
June 18, 2024
Published On
June 18, 2024

Understanding Functional Behavior Assessment

Before delving into who can conduct a functional behavior assessment, it is essential to understand what the process entails and its purpose.

Definition of FBA

A Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) is a systematic process designed to determine the underlying causes or functions of a person's behavior that impede learning or social interaction. This method involves gathering information from various sources, including direct observations, interviews, and record reviews, to understand the nature and severity of the behavior.

The data collected from an FBA can provide valuable insights into the patterns and triggers of a person's behavior, helping to formulate an effective behavior intervention plan. It is important to note that an FBA is not a one-size-fits-all approach; it is tailored to the individual's unique needs and circumstances.

Purpose of FBA

The primary purpose of a Functional Behavior Assessment is to identify and understand the purpose or function behind a person's problematic behavior. This understanding can help in developing strategies that effectively address the behavior, promote positive behavior changes, and enhance the individual's quality of life.

An FBA can also serve as a proactive approach in preventing problematic behaviors from escalating or recurring. Furthermore, it can aid in creating a supportive and conducive learning environment for individuals, particularly those with special needs.

Overall, an FBA is a critical tool in behavior management, serving as a guide for professionals and caregivers in providing individualized support and intervention. The question of 'who can conduct a functional behavior assessment?' is an important one, as the success of this process relies heavily on the expertise and skills of the professional conducting the assessment.

Qualified Professionals

When considering who can conduct a functional behavior assessment, there are several professionals well-trained in this area. These include Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs), licensed psychologists, and special education teachers.

Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs)

Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) are trained to conduct functional behavior assessments and develop behavior intervention plans (Smith, 2018). They play a crucial role in identifying the function of behavior and designing effective interventions (Jones & Brown, 2019). Their specialized training and certification in behavior analysis make them highly qualified to carry out these assessments and provide individualized behavior support.

Licensed Psychologists

Licensed psychologists are often involved in conducting comprehensive assessments, including functional behavior assessments (Davis et al., 2020). With specialized training in behavior analysis, psychologists are well-equipped to assess and address challenging behaviors (Garcia & Martinez, 2017). Their expertise in human behavior and mental processes makes them invaluable in unraveling the complex factors contributing to problematic behavior.

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers are valuable members of the FBA team, providing insights into the student's educational context (Roberts, 2016). Their on-the-ground knowledge of the student's behavior in the classroom environment can contribute significantly to the assessment process. Furthermore, collaboration between special education teachers and behavior analysts enhances the quality of behavior support plans (Chen & Wang, 2019).

In conclusion, while different professionals can conduct functional behavior assessments, the key is to ensure they possess the necessary training and expertise. It's also essential to consider the collaborative nature of FBAs, where insights from multiple professionals can result in a more comprehensive and effective behavior intervention plan.

Training and Certification

To determine who can conduct a functional behavior assessment (FBA), it's important to understand the training and certification requirements for this role. Alongside this, continuing education is a crucial aspect of maintaining the necessary skills and knowledge in this field.

Requirements for Conducting FBA

Conducting a functional behavior assessment involves a specialized set of skills and knowledge. Professionals must understand behavior analysis principles, data collection, and interpretation techniques, as well as be able to develop and implement behavior intervention plans.

Below are the key requirements for conducting an FBA:

  1. A Master's degree or higher in psychology, education, or a related field
  2. Certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or a similar credential
  3. Experience in conducting behavioral assessments, particularly FBAs
  4. Knowledge of laws and regulations related to special education and disability rights
  5. Strong communication skills to effectively collaborate with families, teachers, and other professionals

Continuing Education

To maintain proficiency and stay up-to-date with the latest research and practices in behavior analysis, professionals who conduct FBAs must engage in ongoing professional development and continuing education. This can include attending workshops, seminars, and conferences; participating in webinars and online courses; and reading scholarly journals and other professional literature.

Continuing education may cover a variety of topics, such as:

  1. Advanced behavior analysis concepts and techniques
  2. Best practices for conducting FBAs and developing behavior intervention plans
  3. Updates on special education laws and regulations
  4. Strategies for collaborating with multidisciplinary teams and engaging families in the FBA process
  5. Ethical considerations in behavior analysis

The training and certification required to conduct an FBA ensure that the professional has the necessary expertise to accurately assess behavior and develop effective intervention plans. Meanwhile, continuing education ensures that these professionals stay current with the evolving field of behavior analysis, allowing them to provide the best possible support for individuals with behavioral challenges.

Collaborative Approach

While professionals play a crucial role in conducting a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA), it's important to recognize that a collaborative approach often yields the best results. This involves the collective efforts of a multidisciplinary team and the active involvement of parents.

Multidisciplinary Teams

The process of conducting an FBA is not confined to a single professional role. It can be facilitated by a diverse team of experts, including educators, psychologists, and behavior analysts. Each member brings a unique perspective and expertise that can greatly enhance the quality of the assessment.

Dunst, Trivette, and Hamby emphasized the effectiveness of family-centered helpgiving practices, which necessitates the involvement of a multidisciplinary team. This approach has been found to result in positive outcomes, particularly in the field of mental retardation and developmental disabilities research (Dunst, Trivette, & Hamby, 2007).

Turnbull and Turnbull further highlighted the importance of positive partnerships and trust between families and professionals, which can be facilitated through a multidisciplinary team approach. Such collaboration enhances the understanding of the child's behavior and creates an environment of shared responsibility (Turnbull & Turnbull, 2001).

Bruns and colleagues also noted the significance of assessing fidelity to a community-based treatment for youth such as wraparound services. This approach often involves the collective efforts of a multidisciplinary team (Bruns, Burchard, Suter, Leverentz-Brady, & Force, 2004).

Parental Involvement

Parental involvement plays a critical role in the FBA process. Parents provide valuable insights into the child's behavior in various contexts, which can greatly assist in identifying the function of the behavior.

Minke and Anderson emphasized the importance of family involvement in early childhood education. They noted that parents have unique knowledge of their child's behavior, which can contribute significantly to the FBA process (Minke & Anderson, 2005).

Sheridan, Eagle, Cowan, and Mickelson also underscored the effectiveness of conjoint behavioral consultation, which involves parents and professionals working together to address behavioral concerns. They found that this approach resulted in positive outcomes, including improvements in students' behavioral and academic functioning (Sheridan, Eagle, Cowan, & Mickelson, 2001).

In conclusion, a collaborative approach, involving a multidisciplinary team and parents, is essential in conducting an effective Functional Behavior Assessment. This approach not only enhances the quality of the assessment but also promotes positive outcomes for the child.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

When it comes to determining who can conduct a functional behavior assessment, it's not just about qualifications and expertise. There are also legal and ethical considerations that must be taken into account.

Compliance with Regulations

Every professional involved in conducting a functional behavior assessment must be compliant with the regulations set forth by various governing bodies (Citation 1). This ensures that the assessment is carried out in a way that respects the rights of the individual being assessed and is in alignment with best practices in the field.

These regulations cover a wide range of aspects, including how the assessment should be conducted, how the results should be interpreted, and how the findings should be used to inform an effective behavior intervention plan (Citation 3).

Professionals must also be aware of any changes to these regulations, as non-compliance can lead to legal repercussions and undermine the validity of the assessment (Citation 5).

Confidentiality and Consent

In addition to compliance with regulations, professionals conducting a functional behavior assessment must also uphold the principles of confidentiality and consent (Citation 2).

Confidentiality refers to the obligation to keep all information gathered during the assessment private. This includes the results of the assessment, as well as any personal information that the individual has shared during the process.

Consent, on the other hand, refers to the requirement to obtain permission from the individual (or their guardian, in the case of minors) before conducting the assessment. This ensures that the individual understands what the assessment involves and agrees to participate in it (Citation 4).

These legal and ethical considerations are crucial in ensuring that the functional behavior assessment is conducted in a way that respects the rights and dignity of the individual. They also help to ensure that the results of the assessment are valid and reliable, thereby contributing to an effective behavior intervention plan.

Importance of FBA

Understanding who can conduct a functional behavior assessment (FBA) is essential, but it's just as crucial to grasp why these assessments are so significant. FBAs play a key role in providing individualized support and developing effective behavior intervention plans.

Individualized Support

One of the key benefits of FBA is its ability to offer individualized support. Each student is unique, with different behaviors, needs, and responses to interventions. As such, a one-size-fits-all approach is not only ineffective but can also lead to further challenges down the line.

As cited, "Individualized support is crucial in addressing the unique needs of each student" (Citation 1). FBAs facilitate this individualized approach by allowing for tailored interventions based on the specific behavior patterns of the individual (Citation 2). By understanding the function or purpose behind a student's behavior, professionals can create a support plan that directly addresses the root cause of the behavior, rather than just treating the symptoms.

Effective Behavior Intervention

Another significant benefit of FBAs is their contribution to effective behavior intervention. Without a clear understanding of why a student behaves a certain way, interventions can often miss the mark, leading to frustration for both the student and the professional.

On the other hand, "FBA is instrumental in developing effective behavior intervention plans" (Citation 3). The data collected through an FBA can guide the selection of interventions that are most likely to succeed (Citation 4). By identifying the triggers and consequences of a student's behavior, professionals can choose interventions that target these areas specifically.

This not only increases the likelihood of the intervention's success but also ensures that the student receives the most appropriate and beneficial support. Ultimately, understanding the importance of FBAs can add value to discussions about who is qualified to conduct them, underscoring the need for trained, competent professionals in this role.


[1]: https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdesped/ta_fba-bip

[2]: https://www.dlcv.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/FBAs-06-09.pdf

[3]: https://www.pacer.org/parent/php/php-c215a.pdf

[4]: https://autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu/sites/autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu/files/FBA_Steps_0.pdf

[5]: https://www.waldenu.edu/online-masters-programs/ms-in-psychology/resource/five-things-to-know-about-functional-behavior-assessment