Sample Ethics Essay Paper on Ethics For Behaviour Analysts

Case Scenario 2

Is The Incident Covered By The Ethics Code?

According to Bailey and Burch’s Seven-Step Model (2006), the first step in evaluating a situation is to consider if the Ethics Code covers the incident. This incident consist several elements of the code in accordance to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. For instance, the responsibility of the behavior analyst to client covered in section 2.0. Other elements include behavior-analytical assessment (3.01), approval for behavior change programs (4.04), and avoidance of harmful reinforces (4.09). Subsequently, the behavior analyst should understand the people who are involved in the scenario (players). In this incident, they include the director of the Beyond Reproach Behavioral Services (BRBS), the school principal and the treatment team members. After this, the BCBA should proceed to the next step.

The Players: The Director, Client, Treatment Team, School Principle, and State

As the most important player, the behavior analyst must have the will to counter the organization, skills to deal with the other players, as well as the inspiration to act ethically. In this case, it is difficult for him to seek the assistance of a colleague because the members of the treatment team are not cooperative. Alternatively, the BCBA could seek the help of the director of the BRBS. However, based on the director’s desperation to get clients, and his desire to please the district, his help is not assured.

The other player was the school principle, who did not show any interest in the welfare of Emmanuel (the client). She was not willing to consider the BCBA’s assessment data, which was the best pointer for the next course of action. Conversely, she was more concerned with putting Emmanuel on special education. This move would shift Emmanuel out of class, which is favorable for the principal because she considers him as a distraction to the other students. Emmanuel would also receive funding from the state, and the principal was intending to use the money on other students. In addition, the BCBA has the responsibility of informing the government that the principle’s intentions were not meant for the benefit of Emmanuel. 

Contingency Plans For Ethics: Plan A, Plan B, Plan C.

This step requires the behavior analyst to have a ready plan that he would implement if the initial plan were unsuccessful. A contingency plan is a well thought analysis for the next course of action, if the first attempt fails to work (Bailey and Burch, 2016). For instance, after realizing that the treatment team had put Emmanuel under a positive behavior without his consent, the BCBA ignored this because his data was in support of their decision. Consequently, the team made an adverse decision of putting Emmanuel on an expedited special education without his consent. If he had complained in the first instance, maybe the team would have considered his opinion in the next scenario.

When he presented the matter to the school principal, he assumed that the principal would see sense in his argument. However, the principal disregarded his opinions and chose to support the treatment team, whose opinions were in line with his interests. In that case, the BCBA’s plan B would be to convince the BRBS’s director to make the principal reconsider his decision. However, considering that the director had his personal interests too there is no assurance that he would help. Consequently, plan C would entail speaking to Emmanuel’s parents or guardians. However, this decision was very risky because it could make the BCBA lose his job. Conversely, if the parents took it positively, they would discuss with the principal and possibly come up with an effective solution.

The Skills and Clout

In order for the behavior analysts to succeed in maintaining ethical principles, they must possess several skills. In addition, they must possess the influence factor; which refers to an individual’s use of power, position, and authority to his or her advantages. The BCBA used the persuasion skill in Plan A but it did not work. The other skills he would have used include assertiveness, negotiation, and handling difficult people. In plan B, he should apply persuasion, interpersonal communication, and assertiveness skills. Conversely, the applicable skills in Plan C would be assertiveness, interpersonal communication, leadership and the “think function” (Bailey and Burch, 2016). On the other hand, given his position as a new staff, it would not be possible for the BCBA to use the influence aspect. This aspect would however be applicable if he had a connection with any state’s official. 

The Risk: To Client, BCBA, and Other Players.

In this step, the behavior analyst is supposed to consider the risks that could result from his decisions. For instance, if he decided to implement plan B, the director might decide to collaborate with the school principal in pursuing their interest at the expense of Emmanuel. In that case, they would consider the BCBA as threat and hindrance to their plans. This would make him lose his job. Similarly, the implementation of plan C would be risky for Emmanuel and his parents or guardian. If the parents presented the issue to the principal, Emmanuel might be dismissed from the school, because he was already being considered as a distraction to other students. This would cause a distraction for Emmanuel, and inconvenience the parents in looking for another school.


The subsequent step entails the implementation of the plans. Considering that the director is very ambitious, the BCBA must be tactful while approaching him. He must convince him that, finding a solution for the situation would not hinder his expectations. However, if the plan fails the behavior analyst would implement plan C. He must consider the best time and place to discuss the issue with Emmanuel’s parents or guardians. Moreover, he should not give any hint to them prior to the meeting. During the meeting, the BCBA should describe the whole scenario and wait for the parent to respond. It is also important for him to ask the parents to keep his name out of their subsequent actions.


The last stage entails following up the case in order to know how the incident progressed. In some cases, the behavior analysts are legally implicated. Therefore, it is important that the BCBA keep a record of all the emails, phone calls, meetings, and memos that were involved in the course of the whole scenario. These would act as exhibits during the trial, to show that his intentions meant well. In addition, he should keep a record of such ethical incidents. These would act as useful source of reference while facing such cases in the future (Bailey and Burch, 2016).


Bailey, J., & Burch, M. (2016). Ethics for behavior analysts. Routledge.

Behavior-Analyst Certification Board. Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts. Retrieved on 3rd April 2017.