Core Areas of Competence for Professionals


The AABP provides this Core Areas of Competence document as a means of approving education providers and certifying bodies, allowing candidates for professional membership to demonstrate competence in the technology of behavior.

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This document may be used by education providers or certifying bodies as a means of determining or reviewing current certification standards or curriculum development.

AABP Core Areas of Competency for Certification (CABT, CDBT, CCBT, CPDT)

1. Coaching / Instructing and Professional Relationship / Case Management

 1.1. Coaching skills

  1.1.1. Training humans: describe, explain, demonstrate behavior and then observe client exhibit the behavior and remediate as necessary and follow-up afterward to ensure success

  1.1.2. Working cooperatively with clients to determine and meet realistic and quantifiable objectives with the same added reinforcement-emphasized methods we utilize with non-human subjects setting them up for success and reinforcing productive behaviors to replace any counterproductive behaviors.

 1.2. Organizational skills, including maintaining appropriate records of, policies and procedures (e.g., scheduling, service contracting, liability waivers, confidentiality waivers, billing, informed consent forms), communicating these matters effectively to clients, and doing so securely with regards to confidentiality.

 1.3. Working with veterinarians, including the referral relationship, appreciating medical issues and the role of the trainer/behavior consultant and the veterinarian in this cooperative allied professional relationship.

2. Principles of Behavior

 2.1. Difference between behaviorology, behavior analysis, psychology, and ethology.

 2.2. Operant conditioning.

  2.2.1. Law of Effect and the 3-Term contingency.

  2.2.2. Four basic operant principles: added reinforcement, subtracted reinforcement, added punishment, subtracted punishment.

  2.2.3. Operant extinction and relevant effects, including the extinction burst.

  2.2.4. Conditioned and unconditioned reinforcers and punishers, including the benefits and limitations of each.

  2.2.5. Antecedent conditions including evocative stimulation and function-altering stimulation (including motivating operations).

  2.2.6. Variables influencing the effectiveness of reinforcement, including: contingency; contiguity; reinforcer characteristics; concurrent contingencies; motivating operations.

  2.2.7. Variables influencing the effectiveness of punishment, including: contingency; contiguity; punisher intensity; managing reinforcement.

  2.2.8. Simple schedules of reinforcement, their effects on behavior and how to choose among them in different circumstances, including: continuous reinforcement; variable and fixed ratio; variable and fixed interval; variable and fixed duration; limited hold; differential reinforcement of high rates of responding; differential reinforcement of low rates of responding.

  2.2.9. Transferring stimulus control: prompt delay and prompt fading.

 2.3. Respondent conditioning.

  2.3.1. Respondent conditioning procedures and their influence on behavior, including: Trace conditioning; Delayed conditioning.

  2.3.2. Emotional arousal and its role as motivating operations for operants.

 2.4. Problematic effects of aversive stimulation, including respondent and operant problems.

3. Training Technology

 3.1. Training with prompts and why and how to fade prompts and transfer stimulus control to evocative stimuli.

 3.2. Reinforcer effectiveness under different circumstances and control of antecedent conditions, including motivating operations to increase the effectiveness of reinforcers, and where appropriate decrease the effectiveness of reinforcers for alternative behaviors.

 3.3. Shaping: determine/plan approximations, criteria for moving to the next approximation, how to handle declining progress and/or frustration (including how to choose when to prompt and not to prompt), and how to transfer stimulus control to an evocative stimulus and train toward maintenance.

 3.4. Training complex behaviors via backward chaining and forward chaining, including how to choose among the chaining procedures, how to carry out a task analysis, how to train individual behaviors, how to connect individual component behaviors and train toward maintenance. How to distinguish between chaining and sequencing, which involves interjected cues to form a series of behaviors or series of chains.

 3.5. Criteria for deciding when shaping or chaining are most appropriate to the training objectives.

 3.6. Appropriate choice of schedules of reinforcement for specific parts of training and to achieve specific behavioral effects. This includes using continuous reinforcement initially and then gradually thinning a variable ratio schedule of added reinforcement in a variable manner, reinstating continuous reinforcement for new challenges and retaining it.

 3.7. Programming for generalization, including generalization and discrimination, settling schedule of reinforcement and transitioning to non trainer mediated reinforcers.

 3.8. Discrimination training, including establishing stimulus control to a specific evocative stimulus

 3.9. Common tools / equipment (species specific)

  3.9.1. Tools and their proper and improper use (e.g., clickers, head halters, harnesses, collars, leashes etc.) including the principles of behavior by which they operate.

 3.10. Constructional versus eliminating approaches to changing behavior, including errorless conditioning principles.

4. Functional Assessment

 4.1. 3-Term Contingency and relationship between environment and behavior: antecedents, behavior, consequences.

 4.2. Function-altering stimulation (including motivating operations).

 4.3. Function assessment, including: interviewing (anecdotal narrowing of the problem contingencies); direct observation (measurement and baseline); functional analysis (experimental testing of contingency statement).

 4.4. Preparing a contingency analysis, including contingency diagramming.

5. Contingency Management Procedures and Programming

 5.1. Difference between behaviorology, behavior analysis, psychology and ethology.

 5.2. Constructing contingency management plan based on contingency analysis, which addresses specific antecedents controlling behavior and consequences maintaining behavior (i.e., changing environment to change behavior, changing A and C to change B).

 5.4. Emotional arousal and its role in changing operant contingencies (using an errorless or graded approach and added reinforces to change emotional arousal as a byproduct through an operant behavior change program).

 5.5. Differential reinforcement procedures, including: differential reinforcement of incompatible behaviors; differential reinforcement of other behaviors; differential reinforcement of alternative behaviors.

 5.6. Importance of externalizing contingencies and emphasizing observable and measurable operants.

 5.7. Mechanisms and principles underlying more aversive procedures such as response prevention, flooding, subtracted reinforcement, and added punishment.

 5.8. Antecedent control strategies, including environmental management to make problem behavior less likely either by avoiding evocative stimuli, motivating operations.

 5.9. Strategy to make problem behavior irrelevant, ineffective and inefficient and make an alternative behavior more relevant, effective and efficient.

6. Professional Ethics

 6.1. The role of professional associations and certifying bodies and relevant codes of ethics or professional practice guidelines.

 6.2 Topics to include: professionalism; competence; confidentiality and its exceptions; boundary issues with allied professions; informed consent; marketing and advertising.

 6.3. Principle of using minimally aversive methods and tools.

7. Biological Context for Behavior (aka Species Typical Behavior) (Not required for CABT)

 7.1. Species typical social behaviors  (e.g., species typical behavior that functions to enhance social contact versus species typical behaviors that function to escape/avoid social contact).

 7.3. Common problem behaviors including their common response classes and common response class forms, antecedent conditions, and maintaining consequences.

  7.3.1. Dog: aggressive behaviors; separation related behaviors; barking; inappropriate voiding.

  7.3.2. Parrot: feather destructive or other self-injurious behaviors; undesirable vocalization; aggressive behaviors.

  7.3.3. Cat: undesirable elimination/marking behaviors; aggressive behaviors; undesirable scratching behavior.

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