When seeking a behavior analytic supervisor, we suggest that you look for a MENTOR. The second characteristic of an excellent supervisor is:
Exhibits expertise in your area of interest.
You might be thinking that all Board Certified Behavior Analysts have similar training and it might not be necessary for your supervisor to have experience in your specific area of interest. It is true that all courses approved by the Behavior Analytic Certification Board (BACB) must include and allocate specific amounts of time to certain instructional topics. However, the objectives defined by the BACB (and represented by the Fourth Edition Task List) represent the backbone of a behavior analyst’s repertoire. Nuances exist in the delivery and implementation of specific skills based on the area of behavior analytic practice and demographics of particular client populations. The area of behavior analytic practice will dictate, for example, the types of assessment procedures used, the best measurement systems, and even the arrangement and delivery of reinforcers. A supervisor with experience in your area of interest will have hands on knowledge of the specific skills relevant to behavior analytic practice in that area.
Let’s discuss how to determine if a supervisor exhibits expertise in your area of interest. For starters, the supervisor’s background should reflect professional activities relevant to your interests. Professional activities may include one’s education, training, supervised experience, work history, and/or research history. Keep in mind that a supervisor’s professional background is just one indication of experience. The experiences of a quality supervisor will also reflect recent activities related to your area. You might quickly assess a supervisor’s more recent activities by looking at what the supervisor is presently doing. Projects and activities the supervisor has recently completed should also be considered.
When evaluating a supervisor’s experience, it is also important to look for evidence that a supervisor has stayed current in regards to relevant professional skills. Supervisors should be reading the professional literature, participating in workshops and training activities, and/or attending conferences. Best practices in behavior analysis change over time as science guides the use of more effective procedures. Your supervisor should be aware of scientific information relevant to her professional area and should seek training as necessary to maintain competence with her professional skills.
With the help of BAM Network, you have come one step closer to identifying a high quality supervisor. More details on the remaining four characteristics are soon to come!