The study of behavioral science is focused on crafting and understanding an array of theories and techniques that can be used by scholars to develop a deeper understanding of human behavioral patterns. That same body of knowledge can be channeled into a range of different applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapies. Many institutions, especially schools and community mental health care facilities, employ behavior analysts who can help their patients address their social, personal, and behavioral struggles. In behavior analysis organizations, clinical supervisors are leaders who have the experience to supervise other behavior analysts as they perform their work.
What Do Behavior Analysts Do in Clinical Settings?
Clinical behavior analysts may work in schools, mental health clinics, or hospitals alongside teams of professionals such as psychiatrists, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, and many others. Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) ® may independently practice applied behavior analysis, while Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBA’s) ® and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT’s) ® must be supervised by a BCBA.
When working with children, behavior analysts employ various evaluations during the intake process and use their observations to determine why the client is engaging in specific behaviors. They then develop intervention strategies that can be used to manage or solve these problems and challenges. Throughout this process, the behavior analyst typically works closely with family members, teachers, and others who can inform the treatment plan.
Unlike treating children, when working with adults, behavior analysts may also need to account for their clients’ personal and career goals. It can be very important to focus on activities and issues that are exclusive to adults, such as pursuing higher education, applying for jobs, developing interviewing skills, and building personal and romantic relationships. Though there may be some differences between working with children or adults, the master’s in applied behavior analysis curriculum is versatile enough to prepare behavior analysts to help people of all ages.
ABA Clinical Supervisor Responsibilities
To maximize quality of care and productivity in clinics that provide ABA therapy, mental health clinics must employ qualified BCBAs to act as clinical supervisors. Clinical supervisors are responsible for setting and ensuring workplace compliance with performance standards. By observing their employees in clinical situations, supervisors can also provide feedback that can be used to determine whether employees need additional education or training.
ABA clinical supervisors are also responsible for overseeing Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts who are seeking supervised work hours to advance their credentials. Supervisors are will meet with supervisees two to eight times each month to document progress and track how many supervised hours have been worked. Supervisors will also conduct two to four clinical observations each month to monitor the supervisee’s skills in program implementation.
How to Become a Behavior Analysis Clinical Supervisor
To prove they are ready to meet the challenges that define ABA clinical supervisor responsibilities, candidates must earn a master’s degree as well as their BCBA certification. All behavior analysis clinical supervisors must also complete an additional eight hours of training based on the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) ® supervisor training curriculum. The objective is to cultivate the competencies needed to effectively supervise and mentor behavior analysts. The training curriculum commonly covers the following subjects:
The Purpose of Supervision
This component focuses the importance of delivering high-quality, evidence-based ABA supervision. These are several of the objectives for clinical supervision in ABA facilities, as stated by the BACB, including, but not limited to:
● To coordinate the delivery of high-quality ABA services
● To lead in the process of creating solutions to the problems faced by clients
● To mentor supervisees
● To assess the performance of supervisees and promote their continual improvement
● To maintain ethics and safety standards, and comply with relevant laws
Important Features of Supervision
This component aims to ensure that supervisors can take on responsibilities, including, but not limited to:
● Setting performance standards for employees
● Interviewing and observation
● Training other behavior analysis professionals
● Producing oral or written performance evaluations
Behavioral Skills Training
Supervisors must also show they are capable of training their supervisees using behavioral skills training compnents such as:
● Determining which of the employee’s skills must be developed
● Demonstrating the target skills
● Encouraging the supervisee to practice the skill
● Evaluating progress and providing feedback
Delivering Performance Feedback
Providing feedback is an essential aspect of leadership and mentorship. Supervisors must demonstrate their ability to deliver performance feedback by:
● Providing corrective feedback using audio, writing, graphics, video, or in-person communication
● Following up on feedback to determine effectiveness
Evaluating the Effects of Supervision
To continue growing in their professional capacity, supervisors must also be able to measure the effectiveness of their supervision. Clinical supervisors must be able to answer the following questions as they relate to their own performance:
● Is the current supervision strategy effective at adjusting client behaviors?
● Is the current supervision strategy having a positive effect on supervisee performance?
● Are my supervision consistent, evidence-based, and client/intervention specific? Would my peers, mentors, and managers agree that my supervision is evidence-based and client/intervention specific?
Ongoing Professional Development
Continuing education is essential to career advancement and lifelong learning for ABA supervisors. This section of the curriculum is designed to help supervisors learn more about professional growth and development. Covered topics include, but are not limited to:
● Seeking peer review
● Attending conferences
● Finding mentors
● Performing research
● Consulting with peers
In organizations that provide ABA services, the clinical supervisor’s responsibilities may vary based on the job description and other clinical and workplace factors. Still, there are many core competencies that every ABA supervisor can leverage to pursue professional excellence, advance their career, and provide high quality supervision. Earning a masters degree in applied behavior analysis is an excellent strategy for practicing BCaBAs who wish to enhance their leadership competencies and work towards a career as a clinical supervisor.
Designed for students from a wide variety of health science backgrounds, the online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program at Regis College prepares graduates for success in a variety of possible fields, including careers as clinical supervisors. The program blends research and hands-on experience, offering coursework in behavior assessment, treatment evaluation, ethical practices, and other related areas
If you are interested in developing a deeper understanding of human behavior to prepare for your current or future career, you are encouraged to learn more about the MS in ABA degree program today.
, Requirements for Supervisors