Eleven things to look for when seeking an ABA therapist

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an evidence-based therapeutic approach that helps people develop skills they’ve struggled with acquiring. ABA looks at factors in a person’s world that might undermine their success; through treatment, clients are taught different and more appropriate ways of responding to these factors, thus increasing their chances of succeeding in the world. ABA is not a one-size-fits-all program and is tailored to meet the specific needs of each client.

When researching ABA therapists or clinics, it’s okay to ask a lot of questions—you want to ensure your loved one receives the best treatment possible! Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. It’s important to see if a Board Certified Behavior Analyst is on staff

Some facilities will also have Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBA); these are professionals who have received some training, but are unable to supervise programs without oversight from a BCBA. If your child will be working with a BCaBA, confirm that a BCBA is providing regular and frequent supervision.

2. It’s worth asking about the clinician’s average caseload

How many clients they’ve worked with, what type of clients, and how long the clinician has been practicing.

3. Ask for references and/or talk with other parents who have used the therapist’s services

4. Your child’s safety is of utmost importance!

Perform a background check on the clinicians involved and observe how s/he interacts with your child. The most effective therapists are those who establish a positive rapport with your child.

5. Be involved in your child’s treatment plan

Inquire about the approval process for treatment plans that may contain questionable or unfamiliar practices. Further, plans should be developed to teach the child skills that you value, as well as skills that are applicable to real world settings. You could even make a list of skills you and your family value and a list of desired outcomes. Regularly review your child’s progress with the clinician/supervisor to keep abreast of program updates, and to provide you with the skills to help maintain your child’s learned abilities.

6. Ask the clinician how transitions are handled

It’s important to discuss their success rate for transitioning children out of therapy and into less restrictive settings. If your child is transitioning to an educational setting, be prepared to ask teachers/counselors questions about their program.

7. Ask about observing your child in therapy and how often you can do so

8. Beware of therapists who make hefty promises or instant cures

Most progress happens over time and each client moves along at a different pace.

9. Make sure to find the right fit

Providers differ in approaches, philosophies, and communication, so explore the options to locate the best match for your child.

10. Costs vary greatly...

...and depend on how many skills the client needs to develop and how long it takes them to implement them into their everyday life. Keep in mind that expensive programs don’t always mean better services. Inquire about fees, as well as billing and insurance practices before making any decisions.

11. Therapists, like many professionals, may use unfamiliar or confusing words

Ask them to explain things in common terms.

This list is, by no means, comprehensive. The bottom line is to trust your gut, talk with others, weigh your options, and make a decision based on what benefits your family as a whole. Search for providers who value your perspective and involvement, and who establish a positive, healthy connection with your child; this will set your child up for a lifetime of success.


Pratt, C., Wilczynski, S., Dodson, K., Trivedi, M., Renay, D., & Tomlin, A. What to consider when looking for a qualified ABA provider. Retrieved September 27, 2017 from https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/pages/what-to-consider-when-looking-for-a-qualified-aba-provider

Brett Gilleo