The BCAT: A Certification Designed For ABA And Autism Treatment

Todd Ward, PhD, BCBA-D (bSci21.org)

Dawn Mackey (Rethink)

Lauren Rivera-Whitlock, M.S. (Behavioral Intervention Certification Council)

Jamie Pagliaro (Rethink)

Most everyone in the field of behavior analysis is familiar with the Behavior Analyst Certification Board and its associated certifications for behavior analysts.  However, another certification is quickly gaining in popularity – one that is specifically tailored to autism treatment.  The credential is the Board Certified Autism Technician (BCAT), developed by the Behavioral Intervention Certification Council (BICC).

As mentioned on the BICC website, the organization was established in 2013 “to promote the highest standards of treatment for individuals with autism spectrum disorder through the development, implementation, coordination, and evaluation of all aspects of the certification and certification renewal processes. BICC is an independent and autonomous governing body for the BCAT certification program.”  The Executive Director of BICC, Lauren Rivera-Whitlock, participated in a recent webinar facilitated by Dawn Mackey of Rethink Behavioral Health, to provide an overview of the credential, and how it compares specifically to the Registered Behavioral Technician (RBT) credential provided by the BACB. 

Among the most distinguishing features of the BCAT is its exclusive focus on behavior analysis for the treatment of individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.   In fact, the BCAT is the only autism-specific credential for behavior technicians that is certified by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), according to Lauren, and is quickly becoming recognized by funding agencies, including Tricare, New Mexico Medicaid, Optum-United Behavioral Health, Magellan Behavioral Health, Care1st Health Plan, and Contra Costa Health Services, among others.

Moreover, Lauren noted that the BCAT is the only certification for front line ABA staff that requires a practicum.  Those seeking certification must obtain 15 supervised hours working specifically as a front-line staff carrying out treatment plans designed for individuals with autism. Qualified supervisors include Board Certified Behavior Analysts among other licensed professionals such as psychologists.  The practicum component is in addition to 40 hours of didactic training on the principles of ABA and is available to anyone with a high school diploma or the equivalent.

The exam itself contains 150 questions over 2.5 hours and has been administered throughout the United States and around the world.  The BCAT exam is provided on demand at participating test sites.  Lauren encourages agencies and offices to see how they can become a testing site, which requires no application fee.

The BCAT also distinguishes itself after a person becomes certified.  For example, the BCAT is the only credential for front line ABA staff that has Continuing Education requirements.  Certificants must obtain 12 CE credits every two years, 3 of which must be in ethics.  Additionally, the BICC administers rolling automated background checks on a monthly basis for continuous monitoring.  Thus, the BCAT can be automatically revoked contingent upon certain legal infractions.

For more information on the BCAT, including the BCAT Task List, handbook, BICC registry, and more, please visit behavioralcertification.org, email leadership@behavioralcertification.org, or call Lauren at (914) 820-9903.

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world, bSci21.org.  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiary services, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, bSciStudios and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at todd.ward@bsci21.org

Rethink Behavioral Health provides the tools every behavioral health provider needs to manage their practice and deliver quality ABA treatment effectively & efficiently. Rethink’s easy to use web-based software streamlines client care with sophisticated yet intuitive tools for both clinicians & administrators. For more information, visit http://www.rethinkbh.com.

Lauren Rivera-Whitlock, M.S. is an accomplished educator and communications/government relations strategist, as well as journalist who has excelled in national and local television.  She began her professional career as a corps member in Teach for America, teaching 9th grade English at the largest high school in Houston, Texas. She went on to assist in the building of one of Houston’s first charter schools – YES College Preparatory School – in its inaugural year.

Lauren also has a Master of Science from the Columbia University, Graduate School of Journalism. She worked for CNN for five years, and then went on to work for the City University of New York (CUNY) and their Graduate School of Journalism, producing a show for CUNY-TV.  From there, she was recruited to serve as the Director of Public Information for the New York State Department of State, managing media for the NY Secretary of State, Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez. In that role, Lauren produced the NY State Electoral College of 2008, which finalized the selection of our 44th President of the United States. Subsequently, Lauren ran Hispanic outreach for the Census, a community which was historically undercounted in the Albany Region. Her team’s efforts contributed to a measured growth of the Hispanic population by 80%, soaring past the national average. She then returned back to television producing the morning show for the ABC affiliate in Albany, NY and later the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C.

Lauren began her work in the field of behavioral therapy with the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD). Lauren is furthering her commitment to the field of behavioral therapy through her leadership as the Executive Director for the Behavioral Intervention Certification Council (BICC). BICC is the governing body for the Board Certified Autism Technician (BCAT) certification program.