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How Can Applied Behavior Analysts Treat Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

A person who works as a therapist or who is earning a degree in psychology or a certificate or license to practice may want to know how applied behavior analysts treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many health centers are only seeing patients on an emergency basis, with routine visits and appointments being canceled or postponed until the pandemic’s course has turned. However, children and adults with mental health care and behavioral needs still need to receive treatment on a regular basis in order to ensure continuity of care.

Related resource: Top 15 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Online Programs

Communicate Frequently

Applied behavior analysts need to regularly communicate with their clients or their clients’ parents or guardians. Clients and their families need to be kept up-to-date on what the analyst is doing in order to maintain health and safety during the pandemic. People also want to know if the analyst will continue to provide services, and if so, on what scale, where and to what capacity. The analyst could also provide their clients with links to reputable sources of information about COVID-19, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the local or state public health department.

Minimize Disruptions to Services

Clients receiving applied behavior analysis therapy thrive and depend on consistency. The analyst is ethically bound to minimize disruptions to services. In March 2020, many communities and even entire states have shut-down non-essential businesses and required essential businesses to implement social distancing. Some of these new rules could make it difficult for an applied behavior analyst to perform their services in the usual way. They would need to inform the client and the client’s family of the changes to their therapies and treatment plan.

Ramp Up Training and Online CEUs

Now could also be a good time for applied behavior analysts, their assistants and other psychology professionals to ramp up their training. If clients have canceled or rescheduled visits because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the analyst might not be sure of how to make the most of their time. They could spend some time with in-house training, so long as any meetings or in-person gatherings do not exceed the number specified by their local law enforcement or public health officials. Online meetings are another option for training. Applied behavior analysts could also use this time to reach their required CEUs for their certification or re-certification process.

Consider the Delivery of Augmented Services

According to the Behavior Analysts Certification Board, therapists should consider the delivery of augmented services to their clients. This could reduce service disruptions and enhance the quality of patient care. Augmentation of therapy sessions might include doing telehealth visits. This involves the use of a smartphone, tablet or desktop or laptop computer. An app is used in order to create a secure video connection that allows the analyst and client to engage with each other online. The therapy sessions would be different, but some progress could still be made.

Children and adults who need applied behavior analysis services benefit from a routine and keeping up with their progress. The continuity of care helps them continue on their path forward. Understanding how applied behavior analysts treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic helps family members as well as people considering a degree or certification in the field know what to expect during an uncertain time.