Case Study #22:

Primary Ethical Issue: The behavior analysts are promoting and helping to implement behavior interventions that are not evidence based. Their reasoning is that “if it doesn’t hurt anyone or my services then I don’t need to worry about it being unethical”.



Ethical Guideline(s) Addressed in this Case:


1.01: Reliance on Scientific Knowledge

“The behavior analyst maintains the high standards of professional behavior of the professional organization” (p. 58).


2.10: Treatment Efficacy

(a) “The behavior analyst always had the responsibility to recommend scientifically supported most effective treatment procedures. Effective treatment procedures have been validated as having both long-term and short-term benefits to clients and society” (p. 87).

(b) “Clients have a right to effective treatment (i.e., based on the research literature and adapted to the individual client)” (p. 87).

(c) “Behavior analyst are responsible for review and appraisal of likely effects of all alternative treatments, including those provided by other disciplines and no intervention” (p. 87).


8.0: The Behavior Analyst’s Responsibility to Colleagues

“Behavior analysts have an obligation to bring attention to and resolve ethical violations by colleagues” (p. 166).


8.01: Ethical Violations by Behavioral and Non-behavioral Colleagues

“When behavior analysts believe that there may have been an ethical violation by another behavior analyst, or non-behavioral colleague, they attempt to resolve the issue by bringing it to the attention of that individual if an informal resolution appears appropriate and the intervention does not violate any confidentiality rights that may be involved. If resolution is not obtained, and the behavior analyst believes a client’s rights are being violated, the behavior analyst may take additional steps as necessary for the protection of the client” (p. 167-168).




Resolve the issue:


The behavior analyst should bring to the attention of the other behavior analysts how unethical it is to promote treatments that are not evidence based and explain how that is a violation of the ethical guidelines for a behavior analyst (Guideline 2.10a). He/She should remind the other behavior analysts the right of the client to have an effective treatment and their responsibility to promote these evidence based treatments only. If unwilling to stop the promotion of non-evidence based treatments then the behavior analyst in question should

Team Discussion: Lesson 3                                                                                                    4



take additional steps to report the situation and ensure that the client is getting the best possible service they can.







Bailey, J., & Burch, M. (2011). Appendix A: Behavior Analyst Certification Board Guidelines for Responsible Conduct for Behavior Analysts. Ethics for behavior analysts (2nded) (pp. 293-322). New York: Routledge


Bailey, J., & Burch, M. (2011). Appendix C: Fifty Ethics Scenarios for Behavior Analysts. Ethics for behavior analysts (2nded) (pp. 331-352). New York: Routledge



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