Interview with Certificate in Applied Behaviour Analysis Student | UNB

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Interview with Certificate in Applied Behaviour Analysis Student

Samantha Sadler, BSc, RBT, Behaviour consultant, Age 33
Certificate Candidate 2021

Photo of Samatha SadlerDescribe a typical day

My work involves intensive behaviour intervention for high-risk individuals. Responsibilities include parent training, in-home behaviour intervention, and working with clients of all ages. A typical day involves reviewing datasheets, graphing, writing behavioural support plans, and functional assessments. I go into residential centres and home environments and conduct assessments one-on-one; I also do staff training. Crisis management skills are necessary for this field as you can't predict the type of day you're going to have. You can go in with the idea that you're going to do paperwork all day, and something happens, and you've got to drop what you are doing and manage the crisis. That's what makes the field so exciting! I work closely with my clinical supervisor, a clinical psychologist, and a BCBA daily. It's about teamwork; my workplace is a community, with everyone sharing resources and keeping each other up-to-date.

Describe the ABA Certificate program in your own words

UNB's program is excellent. I've been in the ABA field for ten years. I've taken online courses from the States, and I researched ABA programs throughout Canada and decided on UNB. I recommend it to everybody. I was hesitant to enrol in a program from a distance and wondered if I would be able to contact someone if I had a question. My work is my top priority, and I wanted a program that allowed me to enhance what I was doing in my career. The ABA program provided that. The professors offer guidance and reassurance. I've learned so much. I apply the techniques that I am learning in class to my work. It's awesome, because they work! The program has helped me to build a huge network of professionals. If I am stuck on a case, I can reach out to my professors to ask if they have any insight (without breaking the confidentiality, of course). They always get back to me and are so passionate. They're professional and cannot consult the case, but they help you to look at things from a different angle. In the ABA field, no two cases are the same, so the bigger the network, the better. The more people that you have that you can reach out to, the more likely you'll find a solution. It is a team effort.

What do you think of UNB?

UNB makes you feel like home. The program is challenging and it's extensive and rigorous. There have been times that I've felt stressed, and I email Dr. Palmer, and he gets right back and reassures me that I am fine. He's amazing. All the instructors have been supportive, especially through COVID. They know that I'm working in the field and understand there are times I need to prioritize my work. If I had a child in crisis, I can't say, oh I can't do that because I have homework. At UNB, they get it. They understand the challenges of a mature student. Dr. Donais' course on Behaviour Assessment was excellent. She taught me a different approach to assessments. I took what she taught me and adapted my method and was able to train others in the new technique too.

Why did you choose the ABA-C? What goals were you trying to achieve?

ABA is important to me; it is my passion. I wanted an online program. I knew that having to go to class would not work for me. There are days when my shift might end at 2 pm, but I don't get off until 4.

When working with highly aggressive youth and adults, things come up and your schedule changes, every day. I love that I can do the classes whenever I want. Hands down it's the number one reason I chose UNB. UNB's course is flexible. Besides the service and responsiveness of the instructors, that is one of the best attributes of UNB. When things get busy and chaotic, I can pause my course, as long as I complete it by the end of the term. I don't think there's another ABA course in Canada that offers that flexibility.

Why is ABA so important to you?

Behavioural Intervention can change the trajectory of a child's life. Many of my clients get to the point that their families can't take care of them anymore; they end up in residential care. If these kids can learn skills when they are young, and their problem behaviours get addressed early, you can treat the issue before it gets out of hand. I'm not saying early Intervention is going to solve everything, but it can make a difference.

Was there an "a-ha" moment that led you to search for the ABA Certificate program?

I graduated from university with honours in psychology (my honours thesis was on autism and ABA - my passion). The first employer I worked for did not support ABA. The population that I worked with was highly aggressive, and I knew they needed a concrete program. I was young, new to the field, and not certified, so my suggestions were disregarded. It was then that I realized I needed more education. And I kept thinking ABA can help these kids. And then I found the job where I work now, and they believe in ABA. I learned that if you're stuck, find people to help, find a network, communicate. ABA is all about helping people. We want to enrich the lives of others. If I can't do it, and my team can't do it, then you find somebody who can.

What was your biggest challenge in making your decision to go back to school?

My biggest challenge was finding a course that fit my needs. I did not want to take courses that were not relevant to my field. I had too much going on at work. I was all about Behavior Intervention, and that is what I wanted to learn. I was so happy to discover UNB's program!

What's the best thing about the program?

Many things are “best” about the program. Dr. Palmer, the courses themselves, the network I've developed. If I don't understand something, I have ten people that I can ask. And I've said this from the get-go that I don't feel as though I'd be successful had I not taken these courses.

If a friend asks you to tell them about the ABA program, what would you say?

I'd say it's really good. It’s challenging and you'll learn a lot. ABA is a very specialized field, and it's rewarding. I'd probably say, be sure you know it's what you want to do. So, think about it beforehand. ABA changes lives. And if you want to be a part of that, then go for it.

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