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Quarterly Check-In: My First Four Months in the Field of Behavior Analysis

Michael Kraus

Blogger, Vlogger, Podcast-Connoisseur, Marketing & Advertising, Content Manager at CBA

CBA Blog Volume #6

I can still recall the memory to this day; the first time I was contacted to come in for an interview at CBA. I had been applying for several marketing positions with various companies, with little actual marketing experience, I was finding it extremely difficult to get my foot in the actual door. It was a field I so desperately wanted to break into, but was having trouble getting off of the ground. I digress. As I was researching the website for information about CBA and what they did, I found myself a bit puzzled by what Applied Behavior Analysis actually was. As someone who enjoys learning about psychology, I was having a hard time believing that I had never heard of this field before. Was this a form of psychology? How is this field’s techniques practically used on a day-to-day basis?

These questions, along with so many others that I had, would soon be answered over in the upcoming months, during my first quarter with CBA. Applied Behavior Analysis is an extremely interesting field in the sense that it almost separates, but doesn’t exactly deviate, itself from the field of psychology. I say this in a sense that taking into the functions of the mind are taken into consideration, but most of the work is centered around the behavior of the individual. One of the purposes of the field is to almost deconstruct the behavior of the individual, along with taking into consideration environment and life circumstances, to create an ideal life for the participant that is being helped.

This is an extremely interesting concept to me, and most certainly to my awesome coworkers. I hadn’t even had the slightest idea that an individual’s behavior could be broken down into minute degrees and plotted on graphs and into charts for the clinician to review, assess and form a plan around. With individually tailored data, the clinician can then apply several different techniques to form positive behavior patterns for the participant. “It is amazing to see how effective our responses to behaviors can increase or decrease the likelihood of a learner exhibiting that behavior in the future,” said Gina Wheatley, MSSW, LCSW.

“We often don’t think about the real function of (or reason for) a specific behavior when we are simply reacting to others day to day but it is so critical to true behavior changes! If we modify our responses in accordance to the function, we take the wind out of the sails of a problem behavior or if we intervene earlier and provide the learner’s desired outcome for appropriate behavior, we can actually prevent problem behaviors from even happening because they are no longer necessary!”, says Gina.

One of the most interesting parts of being a pseudo-student of Applied Behavior Analysis is listening to all of the BCBAs, DSPs and counselors speak about the results that they are having with their respective participants. When they speak of the victories, large and/or small, they are having with their participants, they are always coupling their stories with a compassionate and analytical approach. I find this aspect of this line of work to be extremely unique, and I really get a lot of energy from being around these individuals.

These clinicians are taking their kindness and altruistic nature and mixing it with an analytical approach which is driven by data and backed by science. “Applied Behavior Analysis involves objective evaluation and measurement of observable behavior,” says Emma Brink, MeD,BCBA. “That way, client success can be tracked on a regular basis. Thus, when a client reaches a goal, it’s not a surprise, rather a hard-earned achievement that is recognized and celebrated by everyone in their support network.”

“One of the greatest attributes about being a Behavior Analyst is the outcome of my clients. I get the opportunity to become a scientist and artist to assist others to become the best individuals they can become. By using empirical evidence and behavior analytic principles combined with an innovative mindset helps formulate the best-individualized plan for that person. It’s amazing when our clients are able to reach small stones along their way, it helps them to create greater opportunities and maximize their greatest potentials. The feeling of being proud of seeing others successes is one I can never be satiated on,” says Sable Doucette, MS, BCBA, LBA (Clinical Supervisor).

Looking back over the last four months, I’ve not only gained experience as a marketing and social media specialist, but also as someone who can understand the core aspects of Applied Behavior Analysis. Although I did not go to school for anything remotely close to this field, I can honestly attest that this is a subject that I would strongly consider immersing myself in if I had the capability to turn back the hands of time. A yin-yang dichotomy between analysis and compassion is something extremely special, in the way that it utilizes several aspects of the mind and its functions. Over the next few months, I look to immerse myself even more in the field, so that the next check-in I will have an even more detailed synopsis on how my educational progress within the field of ABA is going. Most certainly watch this space!