Applied behavior analysis was defined in 1968 as the scientific study of human behavior. It involves the application of practical interventions, based on learning theory, to influence and develop constructive behaviors within a society. Today, applied behavior analysis is a growing field of study at the forefront of understanding human behavior and social activity and treating a variety of behavioral disorders which are receiving increasing amounts of attention in the United States. Along with other disciplines in the field of psychology, applied behavior analysis represents a rich and highly rewarding set of career opportunities with lots of potential to make a powerful, positive impact in peoples’ lives.
Here are five areas of specialization within the practice of applied behavior analysis which offer steadily increasing potential for professional success:
Applied Behavior Analysis Instructor
Educational professionals are often overlooked in lists of viable careers, but in a growing field like applied behavior analysis the instructor’s position can be a rewarding specialty in itself. Applied behavior analysis instructors are needed not only to teach the discipline at the college level, but to provide ongoing training to professionals at hospitals and other institutions. Instructors make frequent advancements in the field, which can be presented at annual conferences, workshops, and seminars, and they enjoy significant opportunities for professional recognition and upward mobility.
Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist
An applied behavior analysis therapist is specifically trained to help encourage socially constructive and adaptive behavior through positive and nurturing reinforcement. Opportunities for therapists with a specialization in applied behavior analysis can be found at hospitals, universities, schools, and in the private practice field. This is a rewarding and fulfilling profession which offers significant compensation and ample professional recognition.
Residential Applied Behavioral Analyst
Not all opportunities for employment within the psychiatric field involve hospitals or schools. There are many types of institutions which see to the needs of patients in the long term. Residential applied behavior analysts are highly sought after in supportive housing programs for people with mental illness and other disabilities, as well as drug addiction treatment and recovery programs and facilities for abused foster children. The prison system and the juvenile offender system are also in need of dedicated specialists to help reform criminal behavior and re-integrate one-time offenders with the rest of society.
Developmental Applied Behavior Analyst
An applied behavior analyst with specialized expertise in developmental psychology can find employment with a wide range of large organizations, including federal, state, and local governments. Applied behavior analysts are needed to develop, analyze, and implement strategies to help people in a variety of situations cope with difficult behaviors. Law enforcement agencies utilize behavior analysts to help officers who have been involved in altercations with armed criminals, and to develop effective, non-invasive strategies for interrogation. Major corporations also employ behavior analysts to help identify the strongest candidates for important positions based upon observations made during the interview process.
Forensic Behavior Analyst
Forensic psychology is the science of profiling offenders and victims, in the hopes of identifying patterns that will lead to a break in an otherwise difficult case. Law enforcement agencies at every level of government in the US employ specialists with applied behavior expertise for this purpose, and the discipline is increasingly popular with military authorities as well, as modern methods of waging war and tracking down terrorist organizations bear many traits in common with traditional police work. Applied behavior analysts can look at the behavioral patterns of an offender, or a series of victims, and develop profiles that incorporate information from a wide variety of disciplines; they can tell law enforcement where a person comes from, what age they are likely to be, their ethnic background, or how one victim relates to others in a series, as a few examples. The specialization is extremely prevalent now, and opportunities for individual accomplishment and advancement are many.
Related Resource: Top 10 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Online Programs