New psych program: hands-on and values-driven

December 7, 2015 Features

This article was written by the “Law, Ethics, and Behaviorism” class taught by Dr. Michelle Williams. The class is a first-semester course in the Applied Behavior Analysis and Clinical Science graduate program.

Many students seem inherently drawn to the study of psychology. Gaining a deeper understanding of why people behave the way they do really is fascinating.

The specific area within psychology that promotes an understanding of behavior as primarily influenced by environmental factors is applied behavior analysis, or ABA. More specifically, behavior analysts are scientists who focus on changing their clients’ environments, including how others respond to their behavior.

In doing so, Board-Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) adhere to a stringent ethical and professional code of conduct. Beginning this fall, Rollins College began offering graduate training in Applied Behavior Analysis and Clinical Science (ABACS) in the Department of Health Professions.

“Working with special-needs students provides a level of fulfillment, job satisfaction, and success, knowing that you are changing their quality of life one step at a time,” said ABACS graduate student Christina Greco.

“ABA is amazing and I’ve seen it work first hand: teaching children to talk, get their needs and wants met, and acquire new skills. Every day is a different adventure, filled with excitement, challenge, and overall motivation to continue working hard.

Watching the children learn and grow is my favorite part,” she said about her experiences working in the field of ABA. Christina looks forward to earning her Master of Arts degree and becoming certified.

The field of ABA attracts people from many different disciplines and has many applicable uses, although it is currently best known for being a scientifically viable treatment for autism (http://www.cdc.gov/ ; http://www.autismspeaks.org/).

The Association of Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA; http://www.apbahome.net/) reports that the majority of behavior analysts work with individuals with autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, and in education.

Other areas of application include parent and caregiver training, behavioral pediatrics, public policy, child welfare, corrections and delinquency, dissemination of behavior analysis, organizational behavior management, non-university research, gerontology, animal behavior and training, and sports. Many clinical psychologists also use interventions that are behavioral in nature.

As behavior analysts expand their work into new areas, the field of ABA is growing rapidly. An analysis of the demand for BCBAs that was conducted this year by Burning Glass Technologies on behalf of the BACB found that job postings for behavior analysts more than doubled national between 2012 and 2014.

The Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis and Clinical Science at Rollins College offers training for future behavior analysts in two rigorous tracks.

Track A offers a two-year course of study while Track B takes three years to complete. All classes are held in the evening at the Winter Park campus.

The cohort-based program includes 62 credit hours, an intensive practicum totaling 750 hours, and completion of an empirically-based master’s thesis or capstone project.

The required courses and practicum are intended to prepare graduates to take the certification exam that is administered by the BACB and/or to go on to a doctoral program in clinical psychology or behavior analysis.

The early decision deadline for Fall 2016 is March 1; the regular decision deadline is May 1. Applicants are required to provide official undergraduate transcripts, a current score from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), three professional or academic recommendation letters, a personal essay, and a current resume.

To learn more about or apply to this innovative and exciting program, visit www.Rollins.edu/ABACS or contact Amber Taylor, Graduate Coordinator (ATaylor1@Rollins.edu).

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