Archives for September 2015

A behavior analytic supervisor measures your skills

In the previous post, we listed six characteristics to look for in a high quality behavior analytic supervisor.  We believe that a great supervisor is an excellent MENTOR.  Now that you know what to look for, we want to help you find a supervisor with these skills.  Let’s start with the first characteristic:

Measures your skills through demonstrated competencies.

MeasurementYou may wonder why this is important.  First, let’s look at the alternative: a supervisor could simply ask you to describe what you’ve done and what you’re doing.  It may be that during your
meetings, she asks you to talk about your experience and why you selected the interventions you did.  She may provide you with questions to answer, and even written exams.  None of these things are wrong – but we assert they are simply not enough.  The entire point of supervision is to learn how to do what you will be doing in your career.  It is unlikely that your day to day job will require that you answer questions and describe why/how you are choosing the interventions.  Rather, your job involves observing, measuring, and making hypotheses about the functional relations that show up with your consumers.  In addition to the verbal behavior involved in discussing what you are planning, there are some things you’ll do (especially when you’re working directly with a consumer) that go beyond what can be captured by verbal statements.  Some examples could be whether you get your timing right with a reinforcement or pairing procedure.  Missing the right moment, even by a small amount, can really unravel your plans.  While you may be able to tell me that you will deliver a stimulus immediately after the targeted response – Are you actually able to do it?  It is the latter that is the critical feature of supervised experience.

Finding the right supervisor

How can you determine if your supervisor will in fact measure the skills she is targeting?  For starters, your supervisor must observe you engaging in these behavior analytic activities.  So when you’re speaking with a potential supervisor, ask her what the experience would look like and see how often she will be actually observing your behavior analytic repertoire.  At minimum, a supervisor might stop there and not do much more.  Hopefully, your supervisor will turn each observation into a learning opportunity by measuring the skill she is observing, and providing you with specific praise and corrective feedback on your performance.  When addressing a skill that has not yet been observed, a supervisor may ask you to talk about the skill.

What does it look like?

To recap, when a supervisor is measuring your competencies, the supervisor will:

  • Watch you perform specific skills.
  • Note and record specific components of a skill that were done correctly, as well as the components that were implemented with errors.
  • Deliver specific feedback on your performance.
  • Teach a skill and/or demonstrate the correct implementation of a skill when errors are present.
  • Require you to repeat a skill until it has been performed with minimal to no errors.
  • Reassess performance at a later date to ensure that a skill has been retained.
  • Provide a quantified assessment of your repertoire
  • Track your growth in mastered competencies

This, in combination with the other skills, will allow you to develop the behavior analytic repertoire to be more than just a technician, but a bonafide sophisticated behavior analyst.  This is what our field needs, and your consumers deserve!

You are now equipped with information to identify and demand one of six excellent supervisor characteristics.  Keep an eye out for more posts, as BAM Network provides details on the remaining five!  We are working diligently to develop a system which guarantees that all of our supervisors will deliver this kind of experience to all of our supervisees.  Ask us more about how you may fit into this vision!

How to select a behavior analytic supervisor

The word Mentor in magazine letters on a notice boardYou have settled on a career – you want to be a positive change in people’s lives.  You’ve chosen to become a behavior analyst. Congratulations, you have selected the best profession to join, and are likely going to find yourself in an extremely fulfilling career.

As you begin your journey toward board certification in behavior analysis, you will be faced with decisions that can have a significant impact on your career. You’ve begun your coursework and may have secured an experience setting. Yet your most important decision remains:  who will provide you with the supervision to develop your repertoire into a solid, independent practitioner? If you work in a setting with on-staff BCBAs, this may not be a difficult decision to make.  Your supervisor is built into the equation.  However, if you do not already have access to a behavior analyst, you may feel ill-equipped to find a high quality supervisor. We are here to provide some direction!

First off, let’s get the bare minimum out of the way:  minimum requirements that your supervisor must possess are specified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board:

  • All supervisors must hold a current BCBA or BCBA-D in good standing.
  • Supervisors must complete an 8 hour Behavior Analytic Certification Board (BACB) approved training course.
  • Supervisors must have completed the BACB’s supervisor training module.
  • Supervisors must adhere to section 5.0 of the BACB Compliance Code.

But this is your career!  You don’t want the bare minimum. You should demand excellence!  We believe that an excellent supervisor is a top notch MENTOR.  This means that your supervisor:

M– Measures your skills through demonstrated competencies.

E – Exhibits expertise in your area of interest.

N – Navigates you through a competency-based & structured curriculum.

T – Tests your behavioral repertoire at the onset to identify strengths/weaknesses.

O – Offers ongoing collaboration after the supervised experience has ended.

R – Reinforces the skills necessary to build your clinical repertoire.

Finding a MENTOR is not impossible

Over the next few weeks, BAMnetwork will describe each of these characteristics and provide more detail on how you can identify someone that possesses this repertoire.  We are eager to help you begin the journey that will culminate in one of the most satisfying careers available.

Stay tuned for more posts!

Business and You

Employees Concept with Word on Folder.While most behavior analysts receive copious training on clinical topics (i.e., assessment, measurement, treatment, etc.) relatively few learn tactics to impact employee behavior. This is troublesome when one considers the role of a masters-level behavior analyst. Most behavior analysts find themselves overseeing a group of direct care staff members who implement their behavior programs. This puts behavior analysts in a tricky position, they must be able to measure and influence employee behavior, but receive little or no training in this discipline when they were preparing to be clinicians. Fortunately, because we practice a science of behavior, what governs the behavior of our clients also governs the behavior of our employees. From that point-of-view we can then imagine that any problem with employees can be defined, measured, influenced by environmental manipulations, and resolved in a manner that is equitable for the company, the supervisors, and the employee. Organizational Behavior Management (also known as Performance Management) has an articulated set of procedures for accomplishing just such a task.