Photo source: www.bhphotovideo.com, www.blogs.nottingham.ac.uk
Its been about 71 years since I posted an ABA interview, but now your patience is being rewarded :-)
This awesome interview is with Andrew, who lives in Massachusetts. Thanks for sharing Andrew!
- If you would like to, state your name. Andrew
- State your job title. I work for a couple of companies; titles include Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist, Applied Behavior Analysis Instructor, and Direct Therapist.
- Where do you work? I work in and around Boston Massachusetts, United States.
- Do you work independently or for a company/agency? I currently work for four companies.
- How long have you been an ABA therapist/professional in this field? I have been a Behavior Therapist for roughly 8 months.
- Did you receive initial training for your current position? Do you receive on the job training in your current position (from a BCBA or equivalent)? Yes, I received the requisite training for the R.B.T. credential at one position and on-the-job training at all of the other positions. For each position I receive weekly supervision by either a B.C.B.A. or B.C.A.B.A.
- How confident are you in your capabilities as an ABA therapist (from 0-100%)? In my capabilities? 100%. My current skill level, though, is probably around 50 to 60%. I am still new to the field and have a lot to learn! With the proper supervision and experience I have full confidence in my potential as a behavior therapist and, eventually, an analyst.
- How much do you make per hour? After deducting gas, reinforcers, supplies, etc., do you feel your hourly rate is high enough? I make $20, $22, and $25 dollars per hour. I am partially reimbursed for gas and materials are provided by the companies. Yes, I believe that the rates are fair.
- Do you feel more confident with skill acquisition or behavior management? That’s a tough question. I used to tutor so I am good at teaching academic skills but that experience is limited to college students. I used to work in a psychiatric hospital and have seen a lot of behaviors and have experience with de-escalation. My experiences so far in the field of applied behavior analysis center around behavior management as opposed to skill acquisition so I am probably stronger in managing behaviors.
- Describe some of the problem behaviors you deal with, when working with clients. Some problem behaviors I deal with are bolting, non-compliance, physical aggression, property destruction, and self-injurious behaviors.
- What ages do you work with? Most of the clients I work with are between the ages of 6-8 years old.
- What populations do you work with? Of the clients I currently have, one has a developmental delay and pragmatic communication disorder, another had a debilitating stroke when younger, another student has A.D.H.D., and two clients are diagnosed with autism.
- Explain how you got started in ABA. I have a background in the behavioral health field. I worked for a suicide hotline and in a psychiatric hospital during college. I also had experience doing research. Applied behavior analysis attracted me because of how closely data informs practice. It is one of the only helping professions that completely integrates research and practice. When talking about mental health or psychiatric conditions the only thing that practitioners can base treatment decisions on, and judge progress by, verbal reports. What constitutes or qualifies as mental illness is open to interpretation and based on loose definitions. In applied behavior analysis behaviors are specifically defined and directly observed. The idea that progress is empirically tracked and treatment decisions are based on data is comforting.
- Before you started working in this field, what did you know about ABA? Before starting in the field I knew that applied behavior analysis was based on the fundamental behavioral principles of reinforcement and punishment. Besides that, I knew next to nothing about applied behavior analysis.
- Describe a typical work day. It’s tough to say what typical workday is because most days are different. During the week I start my day at a Boston Public School and see 1-2 clients each for 1-2 hours each. Of the 2 hours I spend about a half hour on session notes and graphing data. After spending time at the first school, I travel to a second Boston Public School to see a student for two hours. Then, I typically travel to a suburb of Boston to provide home-based services. I also provide home-based services on the weekend.
- What is the BEST part of your job? The best part of my job is seeing progress in the data; making a socially significant change to a person’s life.
- How many times a week do you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or discouraged at your job? I usually do not feel stressed or overwhelmed. I do, sometimes, feel discouraged. Sometimes I feel incompetent when I do not see the changes I would like to see. I chalk this up to normal insecurities though. I do my best not to let it interfere with what I do (besides using it for motivation to do better).
- How do you deal with the stresses of the job? I listen to A LOT of music. If I am not working, I am listening to music. In fact, I am listening to music while writing this!
- Do you prefer working: in home, in the school, in the community/ clinic settings? Why? At this point, I don’t have enough experience to definitively say I prefer one setting over another.
- Do you receive support and active involvement from the families of the clients you serve? Do you wish you received more? I suppose I do. I get along with parents and most are very supportive and thankful for the work that I do.
- What have been your best and worst experiences with a family/parent? The best experience I have had so far is when I received a text with a video of the client walking along a counter independently for the first time. It was a major milestone and it was amazing to see! I try not to judge things as bad so I can’t really think of a particular worst instance.
- Do you plan to pursue BCBA certification? Why or why not? Yes, I am in graduate school now and plan on getting certified in June of 2017! It seems like a logical next step.
- Name 3 things you wish you could change about your job. I would change my schedule so that I am working between 40-50 hours during normal times (i.e., 9-5 pm). Right now I work late mornings, early afternoons, evenings, and weekends, for anywhere between 20 and 35 hours. The times are different every day. Some consistency would be nice! I can’t think of anything else I would want to change. Scheduling is my big pet peeve!
- Name 3 things you wish more parents knew about ABA therapists. I am not sure there’s anything about applied behavior analysis therapists that I want parents to know but I think that it’s important that every parent learn some of the basics of applied behavior analysis to equip them to advocate for themselves and child.
- Where can we find you?
Blog in development…