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Distance BCBA Supervision (Part 2): How does it work and is it right for me?

I’ve receive many emails about how distance supervision works, and I sent many of those emails to possible supervisors when I was starting in school. One of the great things about this career is the ability to get your degree or certification hours online. Unfortunately, that leaves you with the need to find your own way to obtain your 1500 supervision hours (or 1000 for BCaBA’s).

An easy way to find a supervisor, get your hours, and be relatively assured to get enough practical experience, is to get a job as an RBT (Registered Behavior Technician). I will write a future post about the career of an RBT, but for now, if you haven’t heard of it before, RBT’s are the entry level position into the world of ABA therapy. They are the line therapists/direct therapy providers that work under the direction of BCBA’s or BCaBA’s. To become an RBT you need to have a high school degree, get 40 hours of training (usually provided by the company you work for), and pass the RBT Examination (a test of around 75 questions).

However, many people, include myself when I was in school, aren’t ready to leave their jobs for an entry level position or are already in positions where the use of ABA could be helpful and could count towards their experience hours. If that sounds like you, then distance supervision might be a good fit.

Let’s take a look at your options:

If distance supervision sound like the best option for you, your next question might be

How does it work?

*This is just my based on my experience, it might be different for others*

Step One: Initial Contact

Before you jump into distance supervision, look around and see what’s out there. That is one for the positives about distance supervision, you are not limited by local boundaries. Search on google, Facebook, LinkedIn. If you’re in an online program, ask if they have a resource list of supervisors. As your finding potential supervisors, look at their websites, blogs, bio, prices, etc… Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a few people that seem like a good match for you, make initial contact.

When you’re emailing candidates, tell them what you’re looking for in a supervisor and ask them any questions you have. Remember, you are going to be paying for their services, so don’t be afraid to ask what they are offering, you don’t want to pay $300 of more per month just for a signature on your experience form. Also, check the BACB website and make sure the BCBA is listed as available to supervise. This means they have completed their CEU’s and online training.

Red flags to watch out for:

-Not receiving a timely response to your email. This is 2016, everyone gets their emails sent to their phone, so if it’s been more than 2 business days and you’ve not received a response, that pattern will likely continue into your supervision.

-Not getting your supervision related questions answered or asking for a deposit before answering your questions. There should be no secrets or surprises in supervision, if someone is avoiding or not answering certain questions about how they provide supervision, I would be hesitant to rely on them for my certification. *This is only related to questions about supervision, do not email someone asking for specific direction on how to work with one of your clients before you are being supervised with them. You need to have signed consent from the client/guardian and have a contract with the BCBA.

-Not being listed as a supervisor on the BACB Certificant Registry. If a BCBA is not listed as a supervisor and is signing your experience forms, those hours will not count. Make sure to check the registry regularly as BCBA’s need to complete supervision continuing education every 2 years to maintain their ‘supervisor’ status.

Step Two: Paperwork

Once you’ve selected a supervisor, you will be asked to sign a contract stating the responsibilities of both parties, plan your start date, and estimate how many experience hours per week you’ll be getting. Also, regardless of if your supervisor tells you this or not, you need to complete the BACB online training; none of your supervision hours will count until you do this.

You will also need to submit a deposit to pay towards your start of supervision. This varies by person, but typically you will be asked to pay for the 1st month. I am flexible with this and I’m sure other supervisors are too. We need something to start but if you need to pay every 2 weeks on pay days that can be arranged. Make sure that you or your supervisor are keeping tabs on your deposits to avoid over or under paying as your hours vary week to week. If you look on the resource tab on my website, the excel document “Deposit Balance Sheet” is available for you to use to keep track of your deposits and hours each period.

Step Three: Supervision

The first supervision period will focus on getting to know each other, what skills you have/need to work on, and an introduction of your clients if you have clients at that time. After the initial set up, you should get into the routine of supervision. Make sure that you are being supervised for enough hours (5% of your experience hours each period), your experience forms are being filled out regularly, and that you are being taught the skills to become an independent and effective BCBA.

For more information about what you should expect from your distance supervision, check out my previous post “Distance BCBA Supervision: What you Need to Know”

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