A behavior analytic supervisor offers ongoing collaboration

Interracial handshake on gray backgroundWe believe that an excellent behavior analytic supervisor is a MENTOR. Throughout our discussion of this topic, we have listed six characteristics to look for when selecting a supervisor for your behavior analytic experience. We are now ready to discuss the fifth characteristic. A quality behavior analytic supervisor:

Offers ongoing collaboration after the supervised experience has ended.

The characteristic of ongoing collaboration is different from the four characteristics previously discussed, as we are now focusing on supervisory behaviors that occur once your supervised experience has ended. You might ask, why behaviors that occur after the supervision process are relevant to what occurs during the accumulation of behavior analytic experience. Let’s tackle this question by first looking at the Supervised Independent Fieldwork option requirements. Under the Supervised Independent Fieldwork option, one must accumulate 1500 (BCBA credential) or 1000 hours (BCaBA credential) of supervised experience in behavior analysis. The supervisee must accumulate at least 10 hours per week, but no more than 30 hours per week. This means that at the BCBA level, a supervisee that accumulates the maximum amount of experience and supervision may complete his/her Supervised Independent Fieldwork within 50 weeks (roughly 12.5 months). At the BCaBA level, Supervised Independent Fieldwork may be completed within 34 weeks (roughly 8.5 months).

Let’s take a moment to emphasize the time associated with the experience requirements here.
As an individual seeking the BCBA credential, you may do so after working under the supervision of a BCBA in as little as 1 year! Said another way – a BCBA applicant is expected to competently demonstrate a comprehensive behavior analytic skillset after 1 year of supervised work experience!

Within a 1 year time frame, one may develop a behavior analytic repertoire enabling performance at a minimal level of competency. However, ongoing collaboration with your supervisor, as well as with others in the field, is important to your eventual provision of expert behavior analytic services. An adept skill-set is developed over time and is unlikely to be acquired within 1 year of training. A great supervisor is invested in your continued professional development throughout multiple years and will offer continued mentorship to help shape your advanced behavior analytic repertoire.

How do you determine if a supervisor offers ongoing collaboration? For starters, you can simply ask if you can contact the supervisor regarding questions or concerns you might have in the future. Alternatively, a supervisor might invite you keep in touch or seek assistance/advice as needed at the end of supervisory relationship. A supervisor that offers continued collaboration will share his/her contact information so that you can easily reach him/her. The supervisor might also initiate interactions in the form of shared information of potential interest.

BAM Network has helped you identify five of the six characteristics of an excellent supervisor. The very last characteristic is coming up next!

A behavior analytic supervisor reinforces skills

We have reached the point where we are ready to wrap up our discussion on behavior analytic supervision. Throughout this series, we proposed that a top-notch supervisor is a MENTOR and listed six characteristic to look for when searching for a great supervisor.  We have already discussed five of the characteristics in depth and are now ready to discuss the sixth characteristic.  That is, an excellent supervisor:

Group of caucasian white people making hand Thumbs up sign isolated on white background. Like, approval or endorsment concept.

Reinforces the skills necessary to build your clinical repertoire.

Expert behavior analysts are proficient teachers.  Our unique training equips behavior analysts with tools to teach a variety of skills to a vast client-base.  The behavior analytic client-base ranges from individuals with developmental disabilities, students in classrooms, and members of sports teams, to employees of hospitals and big business organizations.  The skills targeted among our broad client-base are equally varied, as those skills are of direct relevance to each setting.  The limitless applicability of the science of behavior change means that behavior analytic techniques are also best suited for building your behavior analytic repertoire.

We mentioned that an excellent supervisor will reinforce skills when building your behavior analytic repertoire.  However, a quality supervisor will also use other strategies, as the process of reinforcement is one of many components involved in a well-designed skill acquisition program.  Essentially, you should expect your supervisor to use the entire range of behavior analytic principles and procedures throughout your supervised experience.   Your supervisor’s use of these strategies will ensure that you competently acquire a behavior analytic skill-set.  Your supervisor’s implementation of various strategies may also serve as a model for how you might use and apply various behavior change procedures.

You are probably wondering what other behavior analytic procedures you might look for from your supervisor?  The following list includes some, but is not meant to represent an exhaustive list of relevant principles and procedures.

  • Reinforcement
  • Prompting
  • Shaping
  • Feedback
  • Modeling and imitation
  • Instructions and rules

BAM Network has guided you through all six characteristics of a quality supervisor.  You are now ready to identify a top-notch MENTOR for your supervised experience.  Stay tuned for more from BAM Network, as we continue to discuss the supervision topics of most interest to you!

A behavior analytic supervisor tests your behavioral repertoire

We have passed the halfway point of our discussion on what to look for in a behavior analytic supervisor!  Up to this point, we’ve covered three of the six characteristics of a top-notch supervisor.  Before we proceed with the fourth characteristic, let’s briefly review the discussion up to this point.  An excellent behavior analytic supervisor is a MENTOR.  It is important that your supervisor 1) measures your skills through demonstrated competencies, 2) exhibits expertise in your area of interest, and 3) navigates you through a competency-based and structured curriculum.  The fourth characteristic of a great supervisor is:

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

The girl represents in imagination what she strong

This characteristic is closely tied to characteristic 1 (measures your skills through demonstrated competencies), as your supervisor should test your behavioral repertoire by measuring your accurate demonstration of relevant skills.  Testing ones behavior analytic repertoire is also closely related to characteristic 3 (navigates you through a competency-based and structured curriculum), as the skills to be tested should be part of the structured supervision curriculum.

The distinction of this fourth characteristic is related to when the activities associated with characteristics 1 and 3 occur.  It is important that your supervisor assess your abilities at the beginning of your supervision experience.  The thorough and adequate assessment of your current abilities and competencies ensures that you will get the most out of your supervision experience.  Assessing your skills at the onset of supervision is done for the purposes of creating a baseline measure to compare your future progress against.  It will enable your supervisor to spend time targeting skills and concepts that need strengthening.  It will also prevent your supervisor from wasting time on unnecessary instruction.  Essentially, your supervisor’s engagement in this activity provides an additional layer of structure to the already structured supervision curriculum.

Are you wondering exactly how your supervisor might initially test your behavioral repertoire?  You should look for your supervisor to do the following:

BAM Network is getting you closer to identifying the necessary six characteristics of an excellent supervisor.  Stay tuned as we continue the discussion.  Characteristic 5 is up next!

A behavior analytic supervisor navigates you through a competency-based curriculum

Throughout our discussion on behavior analytic supervision, we suggest that the best behavior analytic supervisor is a MENTOR.  We’ve listed six characteristics for you to look for when selecting a supervisor and have provided details about the first two characteristics.   The third characteristic of an excellent supervisor is:

Navigates you through a competency-based and structured curriculum.Close up of woman hands holding clipboard

If you are following our series on behavior analytic supervision, you may have noticed how the term “competency” tends to be repeated throughout the discussion.  Well, here it is again!  We at BAM Network want to emphasize the importance of supervision that focuses on developing your reportoire so that you are a quality behavior analyst.  In order for you to be able to provide the best services for you clients, your supervisor must ensure that you can effortlessly perform the required behavior analytic skills.  Hence, our focus on competency-based performance.

You might be thinking – Is this going to be another discussion about how a supervisor teaches a skill to competency?  Our answer is – not exactly.  This discussion will focus on the addition of an important piece to the provision of competency-based instruction.  A great supervisor will add a form of strategy to your supervision experience in the form of a structured curriculum.

Why is structure so important to the supervision process?  A structured curriculum that is also competency-based ensures that you not only learn to perform a target skill proficiently, but also that you do so in regard to all of the necessary skills.  That is, a supervisor’s use of a curriculum makes it more likely that all relevant skills will be assessed, addressed, and evaluated, and reduces the likelihood that important skills will get overlooked.  You want structure in your supervision experience.  You don’t want the skills targeted throughout your supervision experience to be left to chance.

The provision of a structured curriculum also permits your supervisor to more adequately evaluate your overall performance throughout the supervision experience.  In this case, the curriculum may guide the supervision process through relevant competencies to be assessed and targeted.  Progress throughout your supervision experience in this manner will be indicated simply by you demonstrating more competencies over time.  In addition to the curriculum acting as a guide throughout the experience process, the provision of structure will also enable the supervisor to evaluate your progress against a specific objective goal.  With the use of a structured curriculum at the onset of the experience, both you and the supervisor essentially set a competency-based goal to meet at the completion of the experience.  That is, all of the skills indicated throughout the curriculum should be performed competently by the end of the supervision experience.

Can you believe that we have already covered three of six characteristics present in an excellent supervisor?  We are halfway there and soon enough, you will be fully informed on selecting the best behavior analytic supervisor!  Look out for BAM Network’s next post, as details regarding the fifth characteristic are soon to come.

A behavior analytic supervisor exhibits expertise in your area

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.

Diverse Hands Holding The Word Expertise

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!

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.