Have you been considering a career in behavior analysis, but you're not sure if it's the right fit? Being an ABA therapist is a versatile role, full of challenges and rewards. Here are some things to expect while working in the behavior analysis field:
You will teach new skills
Making progress is by far one of the most rewarding aspects of this career. As a behavior therapist, you will get to teach children how to communicate in a functional way, how to interact with peers, and how to help themselves gain independence in important areas of life. Some of the skills you may teach are requesting items, getting dressed independently, and sitting appropriately to complete a task.
You will work closely with families and other providers
Many ABA programs involve working in the child's home or school. Teaching in these settings is one way to ensure clients are generalizing their skills to different environments. This means you may be responsible for helping parents and teachers to correctly implement procedures.
You will take LOTS of data
As a behavior therapist, you work on improving positive behaviors, and decreasing challenging behaviors. In order to know if behaviors are changing, we take data. Data are collected throughout each session. We use the data to decide when it's time to make adjustments to current programs.
You probably won't have a 9-5 schedule
Usually ABA session are 2-4 hours in length. This means, you may spend the morning working with one client, have a little break, then work with another client in the afternoon. We are often working around nap time, school schedules, and other therapies, which means schedules don't always line up from 9-5. This flexible schedule will allow for time to study as you are pursuing your BCBA!
You will have to manage challenging behaviors
Part of being a behavior therapist is decreasing challenging behaviors. This means you will most likely experience aggression, self injurious behaviors, and property destruction. You will also be expected to remain cool and calm while these behaviors are happening. Although this is a challenging part of the job, it's worth it when you start to see improvements in target behaviors.
You will work 1:1 with a child
Unlike a traditional teaching role, ABA therapy is usually 1:1. This means that although you may have several children on your caseload, you will be working with one client at a time. This is a great way to focus on maximizing teaching time.