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What’s the difference between unrestricted and restricted experience hours for BCBA and BCaBA supervision?

Before beginning supervision, it is important to understand the nature of supervision including the difference between unrestricted, and restricted experience hours.  It can be tricky to understand until you relate it to your applied setting. This post will give you an overview of experience hours and provide examples of unrestricted and restricted activities. I wish I had this type of breakdown when I began! I hope this helps.

What are unrestricted activities?

Unrestricted activities are those that resemble what a BCBA does on a day to day basis. These unrestricted activities include a variety of tasks such as observation and data collection, training staff and caregivers on behavior-analytic programs or content, conducting assessments such as the VB-MAPP, FA, preference assessments, meeting with clients and families about behavior-analytic progress, graphing, and researching the literature relevant to a current client’s programming. See the BACB 2022 Eligibility Requirements for the most current guidelines.

You cannot count school assignments, conferences, university courses, meetings, or any other workshops unrelated to ABA.

What are restricted activities?

Restricted hours are the delivery of direct therapy and instruction procedures with clients. Basically, anytime you are with your client directly and are not participating in unrestricted activities like analyzing data or researching literature.

How much of each do I need?

If you are applying to test under the 4th edition task list (Before December 31st, 2021), at least 50% of total supervision experience hours must be unrestricted activities. If you are applying for the exam under the 5th edition task list (After January 1st, 2022) you must acquire at least 60% unrestricted hours of your total supervision. There is no limit to unrestricted activities, technically, you could have all more if you wanted to but typically students find it easier to work in an ABA agency to balance both restricted and unrestricted.  There are no minimum restricted hours, however, no more than 50% (4th) and 40% (5th) can be restricted or direct therapy hours.

Click here for our quick guide to supervision.

What are the acceptable activities for experience standards?

Unrestricted activities:

For the 4th edition exam, at least 50% of total experience hours must be composed of the following unrestricted activities. For the 5th edition exam, at least 60% of your hours must be unrestricted. There is no limit to unrestricted activities.

  • Conducting assessments related to ABA (preference, FA)
  • Design, implement, systematically monitor skill-acquisition and behavior reduction programs
  • Writing behavior treatment plans, progress summaries, clinical notes, transition summaries
  • Oversee the implementation of behavior-analytic programs by others
  • Training others
  • Communicating with caregivers and other professionals
  • Attending planning meetings, researching literature that is relevant to current client’s programs

Restricted activities:

No more than 50% (4th) 40% (5th) of total experience hours can be restricted

  • Direct therapy/working directly with clients

How does this apply to my current setting?

School:

In the school setting, there are many opportunities to gain unrestricted hours under the direction of your BCBA supervisor. Here are a few ideas for gaining unrestricted hours in the classroom setting:

  • Observation and data collection on problem behavior
  • Composing a behavior intervention plan with ABA principles for a specific student
  • Conduct a preference assessment for a student and take data, graph and analyze
  • Graph behavior data and analyze
  • Research literature for problem behaviors you are seeing from students in your classroom
  • Train paraprofessionals on ABA strategies, treatment plans, and oversee these programs being implemented
  • Write transition summaries related to ABA
  • Meet with parents and train on specific ABA topics

Home:

If you work in an in-home setting as an ABA therapist, here is a list of unrestricted activities that you could participate in to gain the indirect hours all under the direction of your BCBA supervisor.

  • Train parents and caregivers on specific ABA intervention
  • Conduct FBA or parent and caregiver interviews to evaluate the function
  • Observe the caregiver implementing a strategy and record data, graph and analyze
  • Write clinical notes, treatment plans, or progress summaries
  • Research literature related to home-based services specific to your client’s behaviors
  • Graph behavior data, and analyze trends
  • Compose and/or edit behavior intervention plans with your BCBA

Clinic:

There are numerous ways to gain unrestricted hours if you work in a clinic setting. From my experience, the clinical setting provided me with the most options for unrestricted activities. Here is a list of unrestricted activities to do in the clinical setting:

  • Create task analyses, preference assessments, behavior tracking sheets, or other data collection sheets for acquisition targets
  • Conduct a preference assessment
  • Assist in the implementation of the VB-MAPP
  • Conduct an FBA with caregivers, other therapists, and analyze the hypothesized function
  • Train new hires on ABA principles
  • Research literature related to specific clients
  • Meet with parents, caregivers, and teachers and train on behavior-analytic programs
  • Assist with progress reports, reauthorization reports, and treatment plans
  • Observe other staff members implementing specific ABA interventions and provide feedback

How do I track supervision?

The BACB provides an excel experience tracking form that you will utilize to help track unrestricted/restricted activities. I would also recommend watching the 30-minute video on how to track supervision before beginning.

Here is another resource from the board answering frequently asked questions on the monthly tracking system.

Feel free to reach out with any questions!

katherine@readysetaba.com

-Katherine

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