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Ethical Considerations for a Behavior Analyst

Ethical Considerations for a Behavior Analyst

Hypothetical Scenario

In this scenario, I have a client named Mr. T, a sales and marketing professional who also runs his own company. Mr. T is 28 years old and is newly married, but in the past eight months of their marriage, Mr. has realized that they never have a healthy conversation with his wife. He says that they hardly have a day that they do not argue with his wife, and sometimes the arguments become intense to the point of turning to verbal abuse. Currently, he has taken a break from the relationship to seek help. As a single and young Applied Behavior Analyst, the two ethical considerations taken from the BACB’s Ethics Code that I will give priority are ethics standard 1.12, which talks of the Giving and Receiving of Gifts, and standard 1.14, which addresses Romantic and Sexual Relationships (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2020). Following the requirements in the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts, I will clarify these issues in the initial stages of our session with Mr. T. I will make it clear that our interactions will always remain professional and that I am not allowed to take any gifts that exceed $10 or any gifts given to induce a romantic relationship or for financial favors (Bailey &Burch, 2016). Clarifying will help prevent such occurrences.

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The Ethical Consideration Applying to This Scenario and How to Approach It

It is evident from this scenario that Mr. T is a newlywed young man who is financially stable. He has taken a break from his relationship to seek help and is likely to be emotionally vulnerable. Therefore, I will be cautious of any actions suggesting this client is romantically attracted to me as his therapist (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2020). If Mr. T indicates or behaves in a way that suggests that he is romantically attracted to me, I will respectfully refuse, and if he persists, I will refer him to another ABA. However, before our sessions, I will clarify that such a relationship is not professionally acceptable. Similarly, I will not significantly accept any gifts from Mr. T if they exceed $10 (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2020). I will also not receive any gift that is given to start a romantic relationship.

Why These Ethical Considerations Are the Most Important

These two ethical codes are the most important in this scenario because of my marital status as a therapist and the problem that brings the client to me. As seen in the case, this is a male client with relationship issues. Notably, Bailey & Burch (2016) note that clients or the therapist might be carried away and try to engage in a romantic relationship. When people are out of a relationship, some are vulnerable and may want to engage romantically as an emotional rebound. Secondly, Mr. T is a wealthy young man, and he might be tempted to offer me gifts to appreciate me for my work, as an attempt to induce a romantic relationship, or as a financial favor. Therefore, these ethical considerations will be crucial when dealing with this client.


Bailey, J., & Burch, M. (2016). Ethics for Behavior Analysts. United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis.

Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2020). Ethics code for behavior analysts. Retrieved from


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DB . 3 P410

There are several ethical considerations of functional behavior assessment, which are listed in Section 2 – Responsibility in Practice of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s (BACB’s) Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts.

Ethical Considerations for a Behavior Analyst

Ethical Considerations for a Behavior Analyst


Please complete your assigned readings and respond to the following:

Create a scenario in which you have a client who is in need of assessment and choose two ethical considerations taken from the BACB’s Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts to explain how you would address them.
Describe the ethical consideration that applies to your scenario and how you would approach it.
Discuss in detail why you felt the two considerations that you chose were most important in your hypothetical scenario.

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