PASS.. A four letter word that brings so much excitement and change. A word that is an indicating factor of where you’re going next in your career. You wouldn’t think such a small word could have such a huge impact but in the world of behavior analysis.. That word is the most sought out amongst them all. Finally, a new BCBA.
I remember when I read that word across the result sheet. I was in disbelief. After sitting in the exam room prepping myself on how I would study for the next go’ round, I walked out to discover my fate and BAM. There that word was. I leaped with happiness, cried tears of joy, and thanked the good Lord above for getting me to this point in my life. I just knew this was a pivotal turn in my life and the biggest reinforcement I could have received. However, the next day hit, and I was signing my offer letter, receiving my cases, and scheduling meetings. Reality began to sink in.
I remember dreaming of the day I would have my own caseload. I just knew it would be such a great feeling to be in control, be the best leader I could be, and truly make a significant impact in my clients’ lives. What I didn’t expect however as a new BCBA, is the dreaded feeling of not being good enough. A lack of confidence that just ate at my ability to perform in the way I had dreamt of. You believe that after the test everything is set but what the test doesn’t teach you is how to program, how to discover the true deficit of the client, and how to determine what goals would alleviate that deficit.
As a new BCBA, I am learning how to navigate my confidence in a way that increases my performance, gives me hope, and helps me see that light at the end of the tunnel. If you’re like me; wondering how to achieve reinforcement through adversity, then this blog is for you. The first thing you need to understand (and believe me it was hard for me too) is that you do not have to be perfect. Perfection is not the goal in this line of work. If you mess up or an intervention isn’t working, that is okay. The world of behavior analysis is full of trial and error. It is through trial and error where you learn your process and master your craft. You learn what works and what doesn’t. So, let go of the perfectionist in you that has to get it right the first time. The second tip is this… give yourself grace. We, as behavior analysts, have this need for success and the desire to see others succeed. It is what makes us who we are, but we have to give ourselves grace when we encounter a behavior that we may not know how to treat, a program that we can’t simply grasp, or a parent that is super difficult to collaborate with. We will never have all the answers, especially when first starting out. Trust yourself, and know that you are doing everything you can. Last but not least, have patience and give yourself time. It takes years to build experience but the more experiences you counter, the more confidence you will build. Trust the process and most importantly trust your knowledge/instinct. This field is ever changing and always gaining new evidence to back up new findings in the ABA realm. Do your research, go back to the basics, and collaborate with other professionals. You got this, new BCBA! As my dad always said, “Never let the fear of striking out, keeping you from playing the game.” Now go be awesome!
Bio: Taylor Robison is a newly Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Taylor graduated from Arizona State University with a Masters of Instruction and Curriculum in Applied Behavior Analysis. Taylor currently works for a non-profit company that specializes in assisting those with intellectual or physical disabilities. Taylor loves all things behavior and enjoys helping others find their love for ABA as well. When Taylor is not analyzing behavior, you can find her enjoying the day with her husband and her boxer puppy or doing DIY home projects!