The Boring Awards

You will never achieve a coveted Boring Award without working really hard to have the most dull therapy sessions possible.

I believe you can do it, and I have observed multiple therapists over the years strive and stay consistent and next thing you know-- they earned a Boring Award. Believing is achieving.

So what do you do? What are the action steps? What can you change right now, TODAY, in order to kill any enthusiasm, energy, or fun in your therapy sessions?
I'd be happy to tell you some action steps towards being a totally boring ABA therapist:

  • Cookie-cutter is your friend - Did you learn a specific strategy several years ago? Be sure to apply it on all your clients, whether it seems to be effective or not. For example, everyone knows all early intervention clients love to work for Skittles. So just keep a huge bag of Skittles in your car and use that as reinforcement across your entire caseload. Have a client who tosses the Skittle on the floor or gives it back to you? That's fine, just keep giving it to them anyway. You know what motivates the client better than they do, of course.

  • Research, what research?? - It's best to try out strategies and techniques based on whats the easiest option, doesn't require reaching out to your supervisor/BCBA, or won't eat up too much session time. You do have a datasheet to get through, after all. Be sure to stay out-of-date with current ABA research, especially in the areas of motivation and reinforcement, or your sessions might accidentally start to get pretty fun.

  • Stay as still as possible - As much as you can, plop down in one place at the start of the session and then just stay there. Work in one room of the home, or at one table of the center, or in one tiny corner of the classroom. Another advantage of this strategy is it's easier to keep up with your materials because of the lack of moving around. Who needs to be bothered with all that multitasking and carrying around stuff in the natural environment? 

  • Avoid or reject feedback - Don't reach out to your supervisor/BCBA to ask for recommendations to embed more fun and energy into your sessions, and take any feedback from them in this area as a personal attack. You can't be expected to show up for a session, run trials, collect data, AND authentically engage the client all at the same time. Again, that multitasking stuff is nonsense. It's not like clinical feedback is meant to improve and sharpen your skillset, so it's best to ignore it.

  • Tunnel vision for the WIN - Lastly, the best way to earn yourself a fancy Boring Award is to make up your mind at the top of the session to never deviate from your plan. Does the client keep asking to go outside? Or are the parents requesting additional parent training? Does the client seem bored to tears when you pull out those same animal flashcards?? None of that should impact the plan you already decided on. Spontaneous changes, mixing up materials, and embedding the family into the therapy session would just slow you down, and require more effort on your part....and who needs that? It's far easier to show up for each session, do the same things, in the same order, and then go home. Autopilot ABA sessions are for winners.

It's important to remember that being a boring ABA therapist takes effort and resolve! No one is that boring on accident, it's a choice.

It's a choice to say "Hey client, I know what we should do today: We should have a dull therapy session that has nothing to do with what you're motivated to do, your interests, your unique personality, and your current M.O.'s. The best way to teach you is to implement a variety of strategies that I would never want used on me, and that have little connection -if any- to the vast ocean of ABA research. Nope, it's best if I just plod through this datasheet and pull out these same tired reinforcers session, after session, after session. That would be what's easiest for me, and not what's best for you. Yes, let's do that".

(This entire post is sarcasm: do the opposite)


  1. So true! I think many of us have escaped a nomination by the skins of our teeth. While it remains rather true that we should stick to the *behavior* aspect of the plan, deviation from the intense teaching, identified rewards, materials and general session attributes can breathe new life into understanding (and achievement) for the client, and re-engage them. Yay!

    1. Good point! But any deviations must be supervisor approved.

      Thanks for reading!


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