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3 Critical Qualities of A Doctor of Behavioral Health

Updated: Oct 17, 2020

In order to determine three critical qualities that a Doctor of Behavioral Health should have, we must first define what it means to be a Doctor of Behavioral Health (DBH). Prior to obtaining a DBH, individuals are required to be clinically licensed at the master’s degree level in a related field such as, social work, marriage family therapy, behavior analysis, and counseling. A DBH receives educational training in areas that are impactful to our current healthcare systems such as, psychopharmacology, pathophysiology, population health, disease management, entrepreneurship, and innovative financing approaches (The DBH, 2020). A DBH receives education that prepares them to “deliver patient-centered care, work in interdisciplinary teams, employ evidence-based practice and quality improvement approaches, and utilize informatics in primary care and other medical settings”(The DBH, 2020, para. 2).

Now that we have defined the educational requirements and professional role of a DBH, let us talk about the three critical qualities that a DBH must have.

Competence A DBH should be able to assess their patients’ needs and provide them with care that is evidence-based, cost effective, and person-centered. A DBH should be able to effectively advocate for the wholistic needs of their patients. This requires competency in physiological, psychological, and other social aspects of care.

Empathy It is difficult to establish good rapport with patients without the ability to empathize. The capacity to understand what patients are feeling is a critical quality that will help a DBH build a therapeutic relationship that is beneficial to the patient. Empathy also allows a DBH to look beyond the explicit reasons a patient is seeking help and truly put themselves in their clients shoes that they may find the implicit reasons as well.

Altruism To be able to transform our own ambitions and self-centered desires into servitude to society is the highest level of the professional identity framework (Cruess et al, 2015). Altruism is critical when working within a field that provides services to others. There is a level of sacrifice that is required of a DBH as they take on the role of advocate, leader, and healthcare provider.

As a Behavior Analyst and student who is in the process of obtaining her Doctorate in Behavioral Health, I believe that these three critical qualities are crucial to the development of my professional identity. There is a substantial need for integrating care between our physical, and mental health. The gap between these domains are more so overlooked among those with developmental delays and intellectual disabilities – the very population I serve as a Behavior Analyst. Filling these gaps entails work that demands for a DBH who is competent, empathetic, and altruistic.

Additional Resources

Doctors of Behavioral Health are experts in integrated care. The link below discusses the importance of integrated care in our society.

This link will provide you with an example of the process of Integrated Care

This link provides a brief explanation of why Behavior Analysis is important in integrated care.


The DBH. Cummings Graduate Institute For Behavioral Health Studies. (2020, August 20).

Cruess, R. L., Cruess, S. R., Boudreau, J. D., Snell, L., & Steinert, Y. (2015). A schematic representation of the professional identity formation and socialization of medical students and residents: a guide for medical educators. Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 90(6), 718–725.

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About Pauline Tolentino Pablo

Pauline is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst experienced in providing Applied Behavior Analysis  services to individuals on the autism spectrum and/or diagnosed with developmental delays. She  is currently enrolled in a Doctor of Behavioral Health program at Cummings Graduate Institute. 

"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhuman."

- Martin Luther King

- Martin Luther King

Integrated Bx

© 2020 By Pauline Pablo, MA, BCBA

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