ABA in Conjunction with In-home Care
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is often used in conjunction with other behavioral management techniques to form an integrated treatment plan for in-home care patients. Since ABA is a patient-oriented process on a fundamental level, it is relatively easy to apply its core principles and practices in a domestic environment as well as an office or clinical setting. There are several key factors that may necessitate in-home care, including extreme behavioral issues or a debilitating physical impairment. In some cases, working with a subject in their normal environment can also help behavior analysts provide more effective and individualized therapy.
Related resource: Top 25 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Programs
Transitioning from the Office to the Home
Even though analysts will find themselves doing almost exactly what they would do when providing therapy in an office environment, there are some notable differences when it comes to in-home care. Primarily, analysts need to be comfortable with traveling throughout the community and meeting new people on a regular basis. They also need to have strong social skills so they can forge productive, trusting relationships with their client, close relatives and other members of the local community.
Intensive In-Home Care
Intensive in-home (IIH) therapy can take many forms but is usually delivered as an integrated approach that includes ABA alongside various types of behavioral management techniques. These programs are tailored to the individual but can range up to 40 hours of treatment per week in some cases, according to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). This type of therapy is delivered at home due to violent, inappropriate or dangerous behavior stemming from an intellectual or developmental disability. IIH patients may exhibit extreme emotional instability, dramatic exhibitions or attempt to injure themselves or other people.
Intensive ABA services can take the form of rehabilitation or habilitation in either a temporary or long-term capacity. In general, rehabilitation revolves around remediation and recovery of lost skills. It’s usually given on a temporary basis until the patient reaches established behavioral goals. Habilitation, on the other hand, describes lengthier treatment that can last for many months or years. This type of consistent intervention may be necessary for helping those with severe disabilities develop essential personal and social skills.
Behavioral Gerontology in Domestic Settings
While treating youth with autism spectrum disorders is still the primary application of ABA, behavioral gerontology is steadily closing the gap. Many behavior analysts dedicate their careers to applying ABA practices to help older adults retain or build core life skills. Many older patients receive therapy in an office or community environment, but there is a growing number who suffer from extremely limited mobility. A national demographic shift favoring senior citizens could result in a significant increase in demand for qualified in-home behavioral gerontologists.
Advantages of In-Home Therapy
Aside from accessing patients who face severe impairments, there are several other reasons that could motivate a behavior analyst to conduct in-home therapy. Since the success of ABA therapy hinges on thorough research and accurate information, even occasional visits to the home can reveal important details regarding a patient’s daily life. Behavioral issues often develop and are reinforced through routine activities, so first-hand observation can greatly improve practical therapy sessions.
Working in-home with a single subject can help therapists build a closer relationship with younger patients who may not feel comfortable in an office or clinic. It also gives them more opportunities to interact with family members and close friends, so they can work with them to maintain a positive and healthy environment. In-home care is also preferable for managing specific types of behavioral issues, like those related to bathroom or bedtime habits.
Working as a Mobile Behavior Analyst
There are various career paths and occupations in the field of domestic behavior analysis, with qualifications hinging on education, experience and certification. Some ABA service providers have teams that include licensed behavior analysts as well as behavior technicians and personal care assistants. Students and new ABA professionals can pursue many different kinds of opportunities to explore the field of in-home care before making a career commitment.
The overall career outlook for practicing psychologists is relatively strong, with a projected job growth of around 14% between 2016 and 2026, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Expected salary can vary significantly depending on experience, location, and employer. Some behavior analysts offer services as independent consultants, while others work as part of private or non-profit organizations.
Preparing for a Career in the Field
Individuals who are interested in the field of behavior analysis or in-home care can seek various internships, volunteer positions, and entry-level positions to become familiar with the occupational environment. Students or professionals who want to practice as an independent, certified professional are typically required to have a relevant graduate degree. Many senior and research positions require a master’s or doctoral degree in addition to the significant practical experience.
Students focusing their studies on ABA can take the opportunity to learn about the various applications of behavior analysis to find the one that most appeals to them. Many programs offer some flexibility in coursework as well as double degree plans for those who want to build a stronger academic base for their career. Graduate and more advanced degrees also present opportunities for specialization and focus on specific issues or practices within the field of behavior analysis. All ABA students and professionals should research the requirements for essential credentials, like BCBA certification, that are necessary for expanding their career opportunities.
As one of the only proven methods for managing behavioral issues, ABA is an invaluable skill for those helping patients suffering from various disorders. Working with patients in their native environment is certainly different than seeing them in a controlled clinical setting, but it can also give therapists the insight and access they need to make a life-changing difference. There are many reasons to use applied behavior analysis in conjunction with in-home care, which only fuels the demand for qualified analysts who are willing to adapt to the demands of domestic service.