One of the most important aspects of becoming a BCBA is having a great supervisor. Sometimes finding the right match for you is the most difficult part. Think of finding a supervisor like online dating. Do we communicate well? Do we share similar goals? Do I trust them? If you are just starting out then you NEED to get this book by Dr. Ellie Kazemi, Brian Rice, and Dr. Peter Adzhyan. They cover important topics regarding effective supervision experiences. I will summarize a few key points from it that I found most helpful, but honestly this book will change the way you approach supervision.
- How do I find a supervisor?
Fortunately, the cases that I was assigned by my agency were staffed by BCBAs who were willing to supervise me. However, that is not always the case. Thankfully, the BACB has an online registry that you can access to find a supervisor. Many BCBAs listed on the registry have opted to include who they want to supervise. This registry is always a good place to start.
*Some supervisors charge per hour, so keep this in mind!
2. How do I know if I’m getting good supervision?
The great thing about getting supervision is that everyone has different experiences. Whether you want to focus on OBM or EI, make sure that you and your potential supervisor discuss each other’s experiences and assess competencies. If you find a supervisor who has experience working with young learners and you know that is a population that you want to work with as well, then half the battle is over.
This is without a doubt this most important thing on this list. YOU MUST DOCUMENT EVERYTHING!!! Keep records of your contracts, emails, hours, etc. Keep physical and digital copies of everything. In case the BACB decides to audit you, you AND your supervisor need to have accurate documentation. The BACB provides a Fieldwork tracker to use to monitor your progress towards your hours, but you need to get a unique tracker as well. Most importantly, stay up to date when documenting hours. If the BACB decides to audit you, you have 7 days to respond. Going back and trying to fill in all those hours will be a pain in the ass and nobody needs that type of anxiety.
4. Gaining the most from your experience
What you put into your experience is what you will get out of it. It is not your supervisor’s responsibility to stay on top of you to make sure you get things done. Most supervisors are managing multiple cases, supervising multiple staff members, so they simply don’t have the time to make sure you’re doing your job too. With that said, make sure you use your time efficiently. Go into your supervision meetings with a plan! Set goals for yourself, come with questions, and definitely keep track what you discuss in these meetings.
Overall, supervision is the most important way to become an effective BCBA. If you are having trouble finding a supervisor, or even affording one, reach out to colleagues, classmates, and social media. There are so many groups on Facebook, it’s actually insane. With that said, these are just a few points that helped me throughout my fieldwork experience. I definitely recommend getting this book because I barely scratched the surface.
Kazemi, E., Rice, B., & Adzhyan, P. (2018). Fieldwork and supervision for behavior analysts: A handbook. Springer Publishing Company.
About the Author
Nicole is an avid wine and dog lover. Nicole has been studying psychology for the past 9 years and finally found her niche within ABA. Currently, Nicole is an ABA therapist in Central NJ and is studying to take the BACB exam in the fall. Nicole plans to become a full-time supervisor after certification. Although, this may change due to her Gemini nature.
Follow Nicole on Instagram: @nicole.tomy