Behavior Analyst Licensure in Michigan

First and foremost, even though the behavior analysis licensing bills have passed and will become law in April 2017, licensure itself will not become a reality until one year following the promulgation of rules by the new Board. Rulemaking can be time consuming and is regulated, so we do not have a definite timeline.  The provisions regarding the training of behavioral technicians go into effect three years after rules are made. This means your agency or business has plenty of time to plan for these changes. We will keep you posted on developments as they occur.

Here are the details:

  • Michigan SB1015, which establishes licensure for behavior analysts and SB1016, which creates a licensing board, passed the Michigan House of Representatives by a large bipartisan majority on December 14. The bills were signed by Lt. Governor Calley on January 3, 2017.
  • Michigan SB1015 establishes the foundation for licensure for Behavior Analysts and Assistant Behavior Analysts in Michigan, and establishes standards for behavior technicians. These bills were written in a general manner to allow for the maximum flexibility in implementation and responsiveness to changing circumstances.
  • Michigan SB1016 creates the licensing board. Technical aspects of lawmaking in Michigan required these be separate bills.
  • Very Important: The general implementation of these bills is deferred for a year after the creation of rules for implementation. This is needed to create and promulgate the rules, create and post forms, and meet various other administrative requirements. Do not start requiring behavior analysis licensure for positions until licensure is a reality.
  • The Licensed Behavior Analyst (BA) corresponds to the BCBA; the Assistant Behavior Analyst (ABA) corresponds to the BCaBA; the Behavior Technician (BT) corresponds to the RBT.
  • The licensure requirements are linked to the BACB requirements. This does not preclude the Board basing licensure on other appropriate behavior analysis certifications, if they arise in the future. This is a requirement in Michigan law.
  • Important: The requirements for the Behavior Technician are deferred for three years. If you are involved with an agency, keep this in mind. Additionally, the Behavior Technician standards are indexed to the standards for the BACB Registered Behavior Technician, but the law does not specify that the Technicians must be RBTs. The Board may require passing the RBT exam and completing other requirements as proof of meeting the standard.
  • There will be a nine-member Board of Behavior Analysis that will have four Behavior Analysts, one Assistant Behavior Analyst, one university-based behavior analyst, two public members, and a physician. The university member need not be licensed. There can be more than one university-based member.
  • BAs, ABAs, & BTs cannot do traditional psychology-style intelligence/personality testing or making diagnoses unless they are otherwise licensed or authorized to do so.
  • The scope of practice of Behavior Analysis is treatment using contingency management and learning theory-based interventions for objectively identified behavior problems. Specifically, according to SB1015, Applied Behavior Analysis consists of:

a) the empirical identification of functional relations between behavior and environmental factors, known as functional assessment and analysis, (b) applied behavior analysis interventions that are based on scientific research and the direct observation and measurement of behavior and the environment, (c) the utilization of contextual factors, motivating operations, antecedent stimuli, or positive reinforcement, (d) the utilization of other consequences to help individuals develop new behaviors, increase or decrease existing behaviors, and emit behaviors under specific environmental conditions.

  • The licensure bill does not apply to those who practice behavior analyst on non-humans, in organizational behavior management, or to parents and certain other individuals doing their own ABA-type interventions or assisting in a non-professional manner. (See the bill for more details.)
  • Students in accredited training programs will also be able to engage in applied behavior analysis during training if appropriately supervised.
  • These bills do not change anyone else's scope of practice. If they could do ABA interventions before, they still can (e.g., Licensed Psychologists and Limited License Psychologists).
  • There is a four-year renewal period.
  • The Board will have disciplinary powers, and the status of Behavior Analysis as a profession means that certain other laws and regulations will apply.
  • The law also regulates titles. People cannot claim to be a professional or licensed "Behavior Analyst" or "Assistant Behavior Analyst" without being licensed. This does not prevent a university professor or researcher, or similarly trained person, from calling himself or herself a "behavior analyst" in the general sense. That is, the term "Behavior Analyst' is analogous to "Psychologist" or "Engineer."
  • There are no limitations on advertising beyond those in the general Michigan laws and regulations.
  • The application process will be handled through LARA, as it is for most other professions in Michigan.

Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan, Department of Psychology, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 48197