Confidence is Key!

"Confidence is Key"
Guest Post written by: Emily Lauren Beard

Much of what I have learned over the last year working as a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT for short) has changed my life completely. I found my job as an RBT mostly by accident. I knew that I wanted to work with children, and I knew I wanted to make a difference
I began a Master’s program for Mental Health Counseling, but I knew that ultimately, I wanted to work in a field that provided therapy for children with disabilities. After a semester of graduate school, unhappy and confused, I decided to go a different direction and look for a different career path.  After months of research, I found ABA therapy and immediately knew that was where I needed to be. I connected with a local behavior therapy clinic outside of my hometown near Jackson, MS, received a job offer, and began training to become a Registered Behavior Technician. As I approach my 1-year anniversary working at Blue Sky Behavior Therapy in Ridgeland, MS, I have begun to think about all the ways I have grown as a therapist.

I want to tell you a story about a few of the most important lessons I have learned about myself, my life, and my job as a helping professional:

This job is about the children, not you.  
 Ouch, that hurt. At least it did the first time I heard it.

My supervisor had just finished taking notes about the session I had just run with a particularly challenging client. This kiddo was sweet, no doubt, but I learned very quickly that if you didn’t have it together – your emotions, a plan for task presentation, control over the situation – the session could take a nosedive quickly.

What I realized during this session in my first few months of training is that being prepared is a must. Adaptability – the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions (, 2019) is a skill that is most definitely learned on the job. One minute we were at the table working hard at sorting pictures by their category and the next, my sweet kiddo was hurling a giant spit wad at my face from across the room. Chairs were knocked over, cards and toys were scattered all over the room, and my client was standing on top of the table.

All the sudden, my heart rate increased, my palms began sweating profusely, I couldn’t breathe and the whole room became blurry and it was as if time had stopped. I began asking myself, “What is my boss going to think of me?”, “Am I going to get fired?”, and “How could I possibly let this happen? I am so stupid!”

Yep. You read that right.

Not once in that moment did I even think about the client and how I could deescalate the entire situation. I was not thinking about the child’s safety or what he could have needed. I was thinking about me.

Luckily my supervisor was there and was all too familiar with the disruptive and problematic behaviors this child engaged in. She quickly deescalated the situation and had him sitting back at the table, working on identifying common objects, compliant and calm as could be, in under 10 minutes.

Looking back on this and discussing with my supervisor, I realized that this job is a selfless one. Walking into a session means leaving yourself – your fears, anxieties, stress – at the door. This job is not about you. It is about the client and what he/she might need to be successful at the skills that we are teaching.

This job requires confidence – a trait that unfortunately, you do not possess.
Over the next few months as I trained with a variety of clients with very specific skill deficiencies and behaviors, I learned that confidence means having the ability to go into a session believing in the work that has prepared you for this moment. Confidence means knowing you’ve got the skills, you are good at what you do, and that you are prepared for the unexpected....and believe me when I say this – kids can smell fear from a mile away. 

If you go into a session afraid of looking silly or not being quick enough, the child will know. They may possibly use it to their advantage. If you look like you don’t know what you are doing or can’t be quick on your feet, your session could go poorly. The session could end in tears, a torn-up room, and sometimes worse, a broken relationship with your client.

You can reach your goals.
Luckily, my boss saw my potential and believed that I could become a successful and confident RBT. Eventually I began to believe it, too. The more sessions I sat in on, the more trials I ran, the more confident I became.

Now don’t get me wrong, this was a long and grueling process. Some days it felt as if I was just tossed to the wolves. I learned to think on my feet and adjust as I went along. I learned that the work that I do is not about me. Sure, I earn a paycheck and have financial stability and that’s great. However, when I walk into my office, the client lobby, the therapy rooms, my goal is to help my client be successful and learn life skills that will make them happier and healthier. The joy that I feel when I see my client finally master a goal that has taken them weeks to understand outweighs any fear or anxiety that I might carry with me deep inside.

I am here to tell you that being an RBT is not an easy job. It is not for the faint of heart or the ones just in it to make money. This job is for the compassionate, hard-working, selfless individuals who wish to see others achieve their goals.

If you are one of these compassionate go-getters, believe me when I say: You can do this!
You can gain confidence in your skills. 
You can be successful. 
You CAN see lasting change in your own life, and the life of your clients.

Adaptability. 2019. In
Retrieved November 29, 2019, from

Guest Post Author:

Emily Beard is an Registered Behavior Technician at Blue Sky Behavior Therapy, a clinic with locations in Ridgeland, MS and Winona, MS.

Find out more at or email Emily directly at

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