Practice Alerts

Maintaining Appropriate Professional Boundaries

Law, rules and regulations, not Guidelines, specify the requirements for practice and violating them constitutes professional misconduct. Not adhering to this Guideline may be interpreted as professional misconduct only if the conduct also violates pertinent law, rules and regulations.

  1. Licensed behavior analysts (LBAs) and certified behavior analyst assistants (CBAAs) must seek informed consent before initiating assessment and/or intervention/treatment. Inform the patient and/or their authorized caregiver of the scope of what to expect and make sure they understand anticipated treatment outcomes, limitations on the type of interventions the LBA or CBAA is authorized to provide and potential risks involved. In addition, informed consent outlines what is done to preserve confidentiality of records, limitations of confidentiality, the patient’s and/or their authorized caregiver’s rights to allow or deny access to treatment information with the patient’s family and/or who the patient and/or their authorized caregiver can contact for answers to pertinent questions or when concerned about any aspects of the applied behavioral analysis services and activities.
  2. It is the LBA’s or CBAA’s responsibility, not the patient’s and/or their authorized caregiver’s, to maintain appropriate boundaries in the professional relationship. If a complaint is filed, it will be the LBA’s or CBAA’s responsibility to demonstrate that the patient and/or their authorized caregiver has not been exploited or coerced, intentionally or unintentionally.
  3. The LBA or CBAA should be especially vigilant regarding any conduct that could impair his or her objectivity and professional judgment in providing applied behavior analysis to the patient or recommending certain applied behavior analysis services to the patient’s authorized caregiver, and any conduct that carries the risk and/or the appearance of exploitation or potential harm to the patient and/or their authorized caregiver.
  4. Recognize and avoid the dangers of dual relationships when relating to patients and/or their authorized caregivers in more than one context, whether professional, social, educational, or commercial. Dual relationships can occur simultaneously or consecutively. Prohibited dual relationships include, but are not limited to:
    1. accepting as a patient anyone with whom the LBA or CBAA has had a prior sexual relationship or accepting as a patient anyone whose authorized caregiver has had a prior sexual relationship with the LBA or CBAA;
    2. forming a sexual relationship with a current or former patient and/or their authorized caregiver;
    3. treating patients to whom the LBA or CBAA is related by blood or legal ties or treating patients whose authorized caregivers are related to the LBA or CBAA by blood or legal ties;
    4. bartering with patients and/or their authorized caregivers for the provision of services;
    5. referring patients and/or their authorized caregivers to services in which the LBA or CBAA has a financial interest, without disclosing that relationship; and
    6. entering into financial relationships with patients and/or their authorized caregivers other than their paying for applied behavior analysis services.

Previous | Table of Contents | Next

Citations of Pertinent Law, Rules or Regulations:

Last Updated: May 15, 2017