Among my peers, I am a celebrated optimist. Wherever there is a negative opinion, I am there to turn it into a positive. So it was only natural after reading a somewhat depressing blog (http://behaviorjunkie.wordpress.com/2010/12/17/) by ‘Behavior Junkie’, that I would need to reply to it with a positive twist. The blog discusses the path that behavioral analysis is heading, and discusses the faults that he has witnessed in analysts. I am in no way criticizing this view, because it may be very valid from his perspective, instead I am giving my opinion based on my experiences.
There are plenty of downfalls we can see in a person’s ability as a behavior analyst. If they are young, they may lack experience. If they are experienced, they may be blinded by what they have witnessed or may be stuck using old methods that are no longer the most effective. If they are methodical, they may look at ABA treatment as a list of steps and procedures, where if the person is more emotional, they may use ABA too loosely. The truth is everyone is different, has a different personality, past, set of beliefs, and ultimately a different take on ABA. While the analysis itself is a precise application of behavior observation, reinforcement, and prompting, the analysis itself is likely to be subjected to the analysts’ personal qualities and experiences. Therefore no matter how alike ABA treatments seem to be there is always room for interpretation by the user. This diversity creates opportunity for growth and new findings in the field.
It is unnecessary to say that one needs to “adapt or die” because this view focuses on the career as an individual process, where with the help of co-workers, it can be a group activity. In this environment learning from others, and improving one’s skills is especially possible. I think the best advice for behavior analysts is for them to “do what you love and love what you do”. As cheesy as this sounds, I think it is exceedingly important to accept that we are more successful and give more of ourselves to the world when we are contributing something that is natural and enjoyable to us. If this is the lifestyle we choose and remember this passion, I can almost guarantee, that being humble and doing the job to the best of one’s ability will come as second nature. This does not mean that one does not need to work hard; instead this hard work will be beneficial to both the analyst and the families receiving the services. My suggestion is to take the Behavior Junkie’s advice as a caution to what behavior analysis can become if they do not continue to remember why they are doing what they do it in the first place: helping people is something they love to do, and behavior analysis is something they truly believe in. With that, I’ll leave you to enjoy a Happy Holidays full of family, happiness, and love.