BACB Ethics Code

In 2017 I wrote a series of posts for professionals on behaving ethically when using information and communication technology.

Social media and client confidentiality: Are you violating your ethics code? Published January 27, 2017

Asking for and giving treatment recommendations online: Don’t do it Published February 3, 2017

Is sharing a photograph or video of a client or student online unethical Published March 10, 2017

In December of 2020, The Behavior Analyst Certification Board issued the new Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts (BACB, 2020). Due to significant updates to sections of the code relevant to the topics I discussed in 2017, I will write a series of posts which compliment the originals by providing commentary on the updates and how they do or perhaps, do not, reflect best professional practice.

The previous version of the ethics code titled Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts (BACB, 2014) went into effect January 1, 2016. While the new code offered a number of improvements, including consolidating the two previous documents and moving from providing guidelines to providing a code, it came under the scrutiny of many for a number of reasons. Personally, I have explicitly stated my “wish” for a preamble or mission at the beginning of the code to help guide the professionals of our field and help those from other fields better understand what we do and what we stand for. I have also stated my concern with the strict nature of some aspects of the code (i.e., gift giving) that diminished the ability of professionals to make informed decisions and interact with clients and consumers in a way that would be beneficial. I do not recall if I ever explicitly stated my discomfort with the term “ethical compliance,” but to me it always implied that there is a right and wrong versus the very real continuum along which ethical decision making occurs within.

The new 2020 document addressed my concerns (which were the concerns of many) and I urge you to sit down with both the most recent version and the one that has been in effect since 2016. There are plenty of folks who are talking about the changes and the BACB even has a podcast which discusses the new document. My goal over the next month or so will be to focus on the areas I have spent years talking and writing about- ethical online behavior.

I look forward, as always to hearing your feedback about this and other posts.

Happy New Year!



Behavior Analyst Certification Board (2014). BACB professional and ethical compliance code for behavior analysts. Retrieved from

Behavior Analyst Certification Board (2020). Ethics code for behavior analysts. Littleton, CO: Author

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