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What is an RBT?

RBT stands for Registered Behaviour Technician. On the BACB website, it is defined as a paraprofessional certification in behaviour analysis, assisting in the implementation of ABA services, under the close supervision of a Board Certified Behaviour Analysts (BCBA).

At work, my role of an RBT is to provide intervention based on ABA to individuals with autism and also learners with developmental delays. Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) has been proven to have many applications in different fields, as mentioned in the previous post. The ABA goals are primarily to reduce problematic behaviours and to teach new adaptive skills.

It is important to know that although RBTs implement programmes, they are not qualified to design the intervention programmes. These are carried out by the BCBAs. After Behaviour Analysts decide on what targets to work on, e.g., to reduce self-hitting behaviour, RBTs will help to observe and record data on the target behaviour, identify the antecedents and functions whereas BCBAs will then use these information to design an effective treatment plan. It may be a combination of extinction procedure and replacing the problem behaviour with an adaptive skill. And lastly, RBTs will carry out the treatment protocol with the clients during ABA sessions.

RBTs spend the most time working directly with the clients, more so than BCBAs, therefore their roles are essential in ensuring that the clinical interventions are executed accurately. They work under strict professional restrictions and supervisions by certified behaviour analysts. Only by doing so, we can help our clients, the clients' families, caretakers, and also other stakeholders.

At work, I do one-to-one sessions with 1-2 children per day, usually at their homes. Each therapy session is conducted for 3 hours. RBTs may also work in group sessions at the intervention clinic, or as a shadow therapist at the client's school. In addition, I work as part of a multidisciplinary team involving BCBAs, the client's parents, caretakers, teachers, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and developmental specialists. I focus on reducing problem behaviours such as tantrums, self-injurious behaviours, or behaviours that impede with learning and daily lives; and teaching adaptive skills such as social and communication skills, functional play skills, language, self-coping skills, self-help skills, and many more.

How to Become an RBT?

To be certified as an RBT, you will need to undergo a 40-hour training course and pass the RBT competency assessment which tests your RBT knowledge and ABA skills. On top of that, the RBT will need to work under close supervision by a BCBA or BCABA, adhere to the code of ethics, and renew their certification annually. In my personal experience working as an RBT for 4 years, on top of having RBT knowledge and ABA skills, it is also important to have qualities including having the passion to serve this specific population with developmental disorders, willing to invest time and effort to make their lives better; being able to adapt to clients' behaviours, different work environments, and different interventions programmes; having the patience to listen and observe to understand clients' needs and lastly; good communication skills. The ability to to remain calm and objective in challenging circumstances is also important because clients' problem behaviours can be difficult, causing parents and caregivers to be upset, frustrated, and stressed. Working with challenging behaviours may be difficult, but when the treatment plan works and the client improves, it is extremely rewarding and gratifying. And this is what I look forward to everyday at work.

For more information on RBT and ABA:

BACB - Visit the Behavior Analyst Certification Board website to learn more about RBT.

SEED's podcast - In this episode, we invited one of SEED's very own RBT, Yaashini, to share with us her journey on becoming an RBT, her job scope as an RBT and some skills she teaches her students.

SEED's blog - In this article, SEED's BCBA, Sien talks about Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA).

Written by: Belinda Phang, BA, RBT


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