Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Symposium #319
CE Offered: BACB — 
Ethical Considerations Across Fields, Roles, and Organizations
Sunday, May 26, 2024
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Convention Center, 200 Level, 202 AB
Area: PCH/CSS; Domain: Translational
Chair: Nadine Lorna Hempkin (Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Special Education Operated by The New England Center For Children and Ulster University)
Discussant: Lina M. Slim (Lina Slim Consulting; Endicott College; The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
CE Instructor: Shannon Ward, Ph.D.
Abstract: Behavior analysts often work as members of multidisciplinary teams providing services to vulnerable or at-risk populations. Due to the client population served and working alongside various professionals, behavior analysts may encounter situations that pose unique ethical considerations (Bailey & Burch, 2011). Familiarity with ethical mandates of different professions may benefit behavior analysts to develop systems to teach and maintain ethical behavior among supervisees, colleagues, and organizations that comply with the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (2020). This symposium features four presenters who address various aspects of ethical practice in behavior analysis and related fields. Our first presenter will begin by highlighting the usefulness and efficacy of an ethics network developed to promote cross-level and cross-departmental collaboration in a human-service organization. Our second presenter will operationalize ethical engagement and evaluate the effects of instructions and textual prompts on spontaneous ethical engagement of BACB supervisees. Our third presenter will compare ethics codes across different fields (e.g., behavior analysts, occupational therapists, etc.). Our final presenter will compare assent methodology practices in early childhood and behavior analytic research. This symposium will offer attendees ethical considerations in clinical and research practice, particularly when working within an organization and as part of a multi-disciplinary team.
Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): Assent, Ethical Codes, Ethics, Staff Training
Target Audience: Attendees should have an understanding of the BACB ethical code and experience reflecting and incorporating the BACB ethical code into practice, training, or research.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to: 1) Identify considerations in developing an ethics network in a human-service organization; 2) Identify methods for teaching and promoting ethical engagement among behavior analytic supervises; 3) Identify differences and comparisons between different professional ethics codes; 4) Identify the use of assent procedures in both early childhood development research and behavior analytic research.
Responsivity to an Ethics Network in a Human-Service Organization
(Service Delivery)
KATHRYN GLODOWSKI (Mary Baldwin University), Nicole Hockenberry (Mission Autism Clinics), Dana Anthony (Mission Autism Clinics), Catherine R. Hinckley (Mission Autism Clinics)
Abstract: The BACB’s Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts (2020) guides our practice and our professional responsibilities, and some certificants of the BACB may experience possible conflict between engaging in ethical practice and organizational policies at their place of employment (Greeny, 2022). An ethics coordinator (Brodhead & Higbee, 2012), ethics committee (Cox, 2020), or ethics network (Leblanc, et al., 2020) could help mitigate such conflict. In this paper, we described the formation of our organizational Ethics Network, based on the network developed by Leblanc, et. al. (2020). We also reported on the use of our ethics hotline during the first year of the network, showcasing the possible cross-level and cross-departmental collaboration with occasional organizational change that occurred related to situations submitted to the ethics hotline. Future research could include additional measures for ethical behavior at the individual and group levels when an Ethics Network is in place as well as a component analysis to determine which resources of an Ethics Network have a greater impact on ethical behavior.
Evaluating the Effects of Instructions and Textual Prompts on Spontaneous Ethical Engagement Among Behavior Analytic Supervisees
(Applied Research)
ROXANNE GAYLE (Trumpet Behavioral Health, Endicott College, Pepperdine University), Jennifer Roeder (Trumpet Behavioral Health), Amber Valentino (ALV Consulting, LLC)
Abstract: Improving the ethical conduct of behavior analysts is an important outcome in teaching, training, and supervision. It is also a vital outcome within organizations that provide behavior analytic services. Several studies have addressed how to establish ethical cultures and facilitate decision making among behavior analytic supervisees (e.g., Cox, 2020; LeBlanc et al., 2020; LeBlanc et al., 2021; Valentino et al. 2023). These researchers offer suggested methods, while advocating for more direct empirical research to be conducted on how to establish ethical repertoires within the behavior analytic workforce. To date, there has been very few published research specifically defining or targeting ethical behavior aside from discussion-based literature (Cox, 2021). What we do know is that ethical behavior is operant behavior and thus we need to consider the environmental variables that affect behavior on an individual basis (Cicero, 2021), context and culture (Brodhead, 2019; Rosenberg & Schwartz, 2019), ethical principles (Kelly et al., 2020), and the law (Sellers et al., 2020). This study aimed to operationalize ethical engagement among behavior analytic supervisees and to specifically evaluate the effects of instructions and textual prompts on spontaneous ethical engagement.

Comparing and Contrasting Professional Ethics Codes (Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), Occupational Therapy (OT), Speech and Language Pathology (SLP), Specialist in School Psychology (SSP))

MARGARET RACHEL GIFFORD (Louisiana State University Shreveport), Jana Beaubouef (Louisiana State University Shreveport)

Ethical guidelines of principles and standards of conduct for a profession are generally referred to as ethical codes. Ethical codes, are created unique to each profession to serve their practitioners and clients. This project examined the ethical codes of behavior analysts, occupational therapists, school psychologists, and speech-language pathologists and compared them to one another. This examination revealed that there are main topics included in most, or all, of the ethical codes along with resemblances and differences in each comparison. Eight main topics were identified: confidentiality, scope of practice, informed consent, welfare, honesty, rights, reporting, and equality. Many differences between the codes were also identified. These differences, subtle or major, could cause potential conflict or lend to more effective collaborating when differing professions interact and service clients. The hope is that this examination and comparison of ethics codes can help professionals be aware and respectful of the ethical principles and standards of all professions to best benefit all parties.

A Review and Comparison of Assent Methodology in Early Childhood Research
SHANNON WARD (Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Special Education operated by The New England Center for Children), Sarah C. Mead Jasperse (Emirates College for Advanced Education), Michelle P. Kelly (Emirates College for Advanced Education (ECAE)), Javier Virues Ortega (The University of Auckland; Emirates College for Advanced Education), Shaza Mohamed Attia (Emirates College for Advanced Education; Sanad Village), Victoria Nguyen (Emirates College for Advanced Education)
Abstract: Assent, typically understood as a proxy to consent, allows individuals who cannot legally consent (due to their age or being under the care of a legal guardian) the opportunity to decide whether or not to participate in research activities. Recently in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Morris et al. (2021) reviewed behavior analytic research to determine the extent to which assent practices are reported and described in behavior analytic research. The current review replicated and extended the methods of Morris et al. to investigate the scope of assent methodology used with early childhood (EC) research participants. We reviewed EC research conducted over the last 40 years, and 1,159 articles were analyzed. Similar to Morris and colleagues, relatively few articles report on assent methodology. Results are compared to the findings of Morris et al. and comparisons are made between assent procedures used in EC and behavior analytic research. The potential implications of these findings will be outlined, including a discussion on future research, policy development, and design of ethical practices.



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