Pediatric Therapeutic Services

Your Role as an RBT and Three Facts You Should Know

Learn How You Can Implement The Best Practices in Behavioral Health

As the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) grows, so does the understanding that some behavioral situations simply require more expertise and a different approach.

If you are or will soon become a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT), you are likely here because you recognize the growing need for highly qualified behavioral health staff to implement best practices in behavioral health treatment. This field is changing, and the days of timeouts and trips to the principal’s office are numbered. It is time for behavioral health practices that will create sustainable, positive change in special education students’ behaviors.

The Role of a Registered Behavior Technician

Let’s first begin with what your job entails. An RBT is a paraprofessional in behavior analysis, credentialed through the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB). RBTs have at least a baseline level of competency in implementing the principles of ABA and related behavioral health best practices. They directly work with clients and provide most of the day-to-day services with frequent oversight by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Behavior technicians’ list of responsibilities may include:

  • Collecting and preparing data in measurable terms.
  • Assisting with and implementing assessment procedures.
  • Identifying components of skill acquisition plan for each student.
  • Communicating with stakeholders (parents, etc.) and supervisors in a professional manner.
  • Documenting notes according to legal and school-specific requirements.

RBTs, overall, are responsible for modeling behavior intervention plans with treatment integrity and fidelity. This makes them the glue that holds a comprehensive school behavior program together.

Best Practices in behavioral health: Three Important Statements

With your list of responsibilities in place, how can you optimize your practice as an RBT? The first step is understanding which best practices to use when working with students with mental disorders.

  1. Recording antecedents and consequences will help you understand certain behaviors and how to address them.
    An antecedent occurs immediately before the behavior. It can occur in the form of a verbal command or an internal thought, as the presence of a physical object, or as something else in the environment. The consequence after the behavior can either be positive reinforcement or, if it is an incorrect/inappropriate behavior, no reaction. Consequences help RBTs and BCBAs understand how certain behaviors can be controlled/changed.
  2. Every ABA program should be unique to fit the needs of each student.
    What “independence” looks like for each student on the caseload varies. While there may be an overlap of goals and strategies, ABA programs must be individualized to address the specific needs of each student. This means you may apply different strategies when communicating with or prompting a student, and, evidently, you will end up with unique data results reflecting behavioral changes or lack thereof.
  3. BCBAs and RBTs should create each program with the concept of generalization in mind.
    Most school-based therapists and related service providers have the common objective of making their students’ acquired skills transferable between environments. For example: “This student can now sit still during an OT session but continues to have difficulty doing so in the classroom. What changes should be made?” When it comes to generalization, the student is not considered to have mastered a given skill until he or she can do so independently and in any setting.

Your (future) role as an RBT necessitates you to understand behavioral reactions to antecedents, accommodate each student’s behavioral health needs, and strive to achieve the transferring of skills. For recently-certified RBT and other related service professionals interested in working in a school-based setting, PTS can support you as you make your career transition. Contact us today to speak with a clinical director and learn more about how you can implement the best practices in behavioral health treatment.

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