Behaviorally Educated Goes to Italy

In the last 20 years, behavior analysis has seen tremendous growth in Italy and has realized better recognition as both a science and discipline.

Italy has, for example, been the home of a number of prestigious conferences like the Association for Behavior Analysis international convention in Venice in 2001 and the European Association for Behavior Analysis convention in Parma in 2003.Two prominent scholars (Moderato, 2004; Tosolin, 2012) have been the recipients of international development grants awarded by the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis (SABA).

Today, Italy is the home of two ABAI affiliated chapters – the Association for the Advancement of Radical Behaviorism (AARBA) and the European Institute for the Study of Human Behaviour (IESCUM); Moderato & Presti, 2006). There are now over 100 behavior analysts who hold the BCBA or BCaBA level certification.

university cloister, Milan

Degree programs in Italy differ slightly from US-based degree programs.

The laurea triennale aligns to the US bachelor’s degree and the laurea magistrale aligns with the US master’s degree, giving graduates the title of dottore or dottoressa – though not equivalent to the US PhD. After completing the laurea magistrale, however, Italian students can go on to obtain the title of Dottore di Ricerca, which is the equivalent of the US PhD.

Castle of Torrechiara, Parma

Students who have finished the laurea triennale (or the laurea magistrale) also have another option. They can complete one/two year programs with a specialization; however, completion of these programs does not allow them access to the Dottorato di Ricerca.

Behavior analysis training programs and coursework in Italy are generally housed in specialization programs, not in degree programs. And, the number of behavior analysis courses offered through Italian universities and associations is growing.

Duomo, Parma

The master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program offered through the University of Parma, for example, provides behavior analytic coursework at both the primo livello and the secondo livello. Students in the programs complete up to 300 hours of traditional coursework, an internship, and three to four research papers. The number of internship hours and the number of research papers vary depending on whether students are at the primo livello or secondo livello. These students complete their internships and conduct their research at Centro Tecniche di Insegnamento per le Competenze dell’età Evolutiva or TICE Social Cooperative.

Teatro Regio, Parma

The next Behaviorally Educated post will be co-authored by my colleagues in Italy and will look deeper into TICE Social Cooperative, what it takes to create your own start-up like TICE Social Cooperative, and what it is like to work as a behavior analyst at TICE.

*Readers interested in a more comprehensive history of behavior analysis in Italy should read Moderato (1988) and Moderato and Presti (2006).

Thanks to Vanessa Artoni and Rita Olla for their comments and edits and to Vanessa Artoni for the photos of Parma.