The Registered Behavior Technician is a credential that was developed by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). This credential is typically a professional who is trained in applied behavior analysis. Additionally, they must be competent in general ABA principles, specifically those listed on the RBT Task List.

The RBT task list covers areas of applied behavior analysis including:

  • Measurement
  • Assessment
  • Skill Acquisition
  • Behavior Reduction
  • Documentation and Reporting
  • Professional Conduct and Scope of Practice.

You can see the RBT Task List here.

In this post, we will be covering specific skills identified in the behavior reduction category. This section addresses various ABA concepts that help to decrease the occurrence of undesired behaviors in the learner.

It is important to focus on use of positive reinforcement to increase skills. In some contexts, this would be referred to as focusing on what the learner should be doing rather than what they shouldnt be doing or “catching the child being good.” However, maladaptive behavior may interfere with learning and may need to be addressed for safety or other reasons, as well.

We will cover the following concepts from the RBT Task List as they relate to behavior reduction in ABA services:

  • D-01: Identify the essential components of a written behavior plan
  • D-02: Describe common functions of behavior
  • D-03: Implement interventions based on modification of antecedents such as motivating/establishing operations and discriminative stimuli

Identify the essential components of a written behavior plan

A behavior plan is useful because it helps the behavior technician address behaviors effectively. Typically, the Behavior Analyst will develop the behavior plan and the behavior technician will implement it during ABA sessions.

According to Tarbox & Tarbox (2017), a written behavior plan must include the following:

  • Operational definitions of target behaviors
  • Antecedent modifications
  • Replacement behaviors
  • Consequence modifications
  • Persons responsible
  • Emergency measures
  • Function of behavior

According to the BACB: Practice Guidelines (2014), a behavior plan should include:

  • Interventions supported by evidence only
  • A focus on socially significant behaviors
  • Identification of ABA concepts to be used in efforts of reducing maladaptive behaviors
  • Objective goals
  • Measurement/data collection strategies
  • Use of function-based interventions (formulated from a Functional Behavior Assessment)
  • Baseline levels of behaviors identified
  • Direct assessments with graphs when applicable
  • Antecedent strategies
  • Consequence strategies
  • Crisis plan

Describe common functions of behavior

The four functions of behavior are important to remember when providing ABA services. All behaviors are maintained by one or more of the four functions of behavior.

The four functions of behavior include:

  • Attention
  • Access to Tangibles
  • Escape
  • Automatic Reinforcement

Implement interventions based on modification of antecedents such as motivating/establishing operations and discriminative stimuli

Antecedents refer to things that occur before the identified behavior or skill.

Modifying antecedents refers to making changes in the clients environment prior to the client working on a specific skill or displaying a specific behavior. For instance, when looking at behavior reduction, modifying antecedents would involve making changes that will help decrease the likelihood that the behavior will occur.

Antecedent strategies are a good strategy for teachers and caregivers/parents alike. This is because you are able to use these strategies to prevent the problem behavior from happening rather than waiting until the problem behavior occurs and then trying to react effectively.

Motivating operations refers to a behavior concept which identifies the degree to which the learner will be reinforced by the consequences of their behavior. For example, if a child is really hungry, they may be more likely to complete a task and be reinforced by the reward of a snack.

Of course, in ABA services (and in everyday life), we dont want to be restrictive or unethical in regard to an individuals biological needs and human rights. However, we can use motivating operations to influence behavior.

An establishing operation increases the effectiveness of a reinforcer. For example, if a child has not played video games all day (but loves them), he may be more likely to complete his chores and homework (or complete therapy tasks in an ABA session) to earn the video game.

Discriminative stimuli, also known as SDs, are the stimuli that are used to elicit a specific response. For example, showing a child an ice-cream cone and saying, What is this?, may elicit the child in saying, Ice-cream.

To modify SDs with the intent of reducing maladaptive behaviors, an RBT could do many things including: making instructions clear and concise, providing a visual prompt with the instruction, or reviewing group rules before a social group begins.

Other Articles You May Like:

RBT Study Topic: Skill Acquisition Part 1 of 3

RBT Study Topic: Skill Acquisition Part 2 of 3

RBT Study Topic: Skill Acquisition Part 3 of 3


Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2014). Applied Behavior Analysis Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Practice Guidelines for Healthcare Funders and Managers. Retrieved from:

Tarbox, J. & Tarbox, C. (2017). Training Manual for Behavior Technicians Working with Individuals with Autism.