Currently, the BACB provides a list of 12 items pertaining to ethics that practitioners ought to be aware of and demonstrate competency within in order to attain certification as a BCBA or BCaBA. As a result, many educational programs offer education and training on the items represented on the BACB Task List without providing an overarching functional process that guides practitioners through clinical ethical decision making once they are in the field. Efficient processes for clinical ethical decision making have a robust history in many other health care fields and offer well-laid out processes for efficiently making effective ethical decisions. An overview of processes for clinical ethical decision making from a variety of health care fields will be outlined and compared to the present literature on clinical ethical decision making in the field of applied behavior analysis. A working model for making ethical decisions within the ABA clinical realm will be offered as well as discussion of how educational programs can better teach such a process as we move into the future of education within the field of applied behavior analysis.
In 1974 Israel Goldiamond published a seminal work on constructional approaches to social problems, outlining a therapeutic process to help individuals achieve their goals. When reviewing his constructional approach, it now appears that Goldiamond was not only a great behavior analyst but also a clairvoyant! His constructional approach is clearly is a forefather of both positive behavior support, designed to facilitate better lives for individuals with an intellectual disability who exhibit challenging behavior, and psychiatric rehabilitation which has been developed to help individuals diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illnesses have better lives. Each of these models, a constructional approach, positive behavior support, and psychiatric rehabilitation, is described and similarities and differences are discussed. For example, all three models have a number of similar strategies, including client developed goals, a focus on achieving those goals rather than removing symptoms/problems, and an emphasis on using clients strengths as a building block for success. One significant difference is that only the constructional approach and positive behavior support consider the function of the problem behavior.