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Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, the most effective treatment for autism, has been in high demand in recent years. If you’re interested in becoming an ABA therapist, here’s everything you need to know about the benefits and challenges of this job and the key qualities that make a great therapist.
Benefits of Being an ABA Therapist
ABA therapists work one-on-one with children with autism and other developmental disabilities using the principles of applied behavior analysis. ABA therapy is successfully used for teaching independent daily living skills, improving communication, and decreasing unwanted behaviors through reinforcement. This is an individualized treatment, tailored to address the particular needs of each child.
Being an ABA therapist is a rewarding career that holds numerous benefits, for example:
- Working as an ABA therapist allows you to make a difference in the lives of children with autism and other special needs. This career will provide you with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment because you’ll be able to affect someone’s life in a positive way.
- ABA therapists work with children across the autism spectrum, their families, teachers, and other professionals. If you enjoy working with people and helping others achieve their full potential, then becoming an ABA therapist might be the right career choice for you.
- Each day working as an ABA therapist brings new challenges and rewards. You will encounter a wide range of behaviors in different settings and use a variety of creative techniques that keep the job dynamic and interesting.
- As an ABA therapist, you will be supervised by a board certified behavior analyst (BCBAs) who will provide plenty of support and advice in challenging situations.
Working as an ABA therapist is a fulfilling profession, but like all other careers, it has its disadvantages. Let’s see what they are.
Challenges of Being an ABA Therapist
ABA therapy involves difficult situations that require lots of consistency and patience. Below, we list the main challenges of being an ABA therapist that you should consider before choosing this career.
- Being an ABA therapist is a very demanding job that requires a lot of effort and perseverance. You will be expected to manage challenging behaviors of children who also suffer from sensory issues and have difficulties communicating and responding appropriately to others. Besides, you will need to make quick decisions, for example, react in a situation when a child displays aggressive or destructive behaviors.
- ABA therapists must have an excellent understanding of different approaches and techniques in order to facilitate the learning and improvement of children with autism spectrum disorder. At the same time, they have to treat each child in accordance with the individual Behavior Support Plan (BSP).
- The job of an ABA therapist is often emotionally exhausting, which might increase the risk of stress, depression, and burnout. It’s essential to be able to set boundaries and separate the work as a therapist from personal life.
We’ve seen some of the advantages and disadvantages of being an ABA therapist, but what are the essential qualities that define a successful therapist? Read on to find out what personality traits you should have to effectively help others.
Traits of a Great ABA Therapist
The basic requirements for becoming an ABA therapist are the right qualifications and professional knowledge, but these qualities alone won’t make you a great therapist. If you want to excel in your career, you also need to have the following traits:
Enjoy working with children
As an ABA therapist, you will be mostly working with children with autism spectrum disorder. It is essential that you enjoy spending time with children and are invested in their progress.
Be passionate about your work
To become a successful ABA therapist, you must have the curiosity to learn new strategies and principles of applied behavior analysis and implement them in your work.
Have empathy and compassion
A great ABA therapist must take the time to understand the feelings and behaviors of an autistic child. You have to empathize with your patients in order to make them feel understood and provide them with adequate help.
As an ABA therapist, you will regularly work with children with moderate or severe behavioral issues who progress very slowly. You will need to have lots of patience to be able to do your job successfully and help them improve.
Remain calm in challenging situations
When working as an ABA therapist, you have to remain calm in tough and emotional situations, for example when a child displays aggressive or destructive behaviors.
Have problem-solving skills
As an ABA therapist, you will spend a great amount of time observing your patients. Based on these observations, you will have to be able to identify problems and offer appropriate solutions.
Because ABA therapy has to be adapted to the needs of each child, an ABA therapist must be flexible. This means that you have to accept that methods that work well with one child may be ineffective for others, and use each child’s behaviors and challenges to determine the best possible treatment.
Have excellent communication skills
ABA therapists have to communicate with many different individuals, from children and their families to teachers and other therapists. You should be able to explain things in a way that others can understand and present various therapeutic solutions in easy, non-scientific terms.
Be a good listener
As an ABA therapist, you should have a great capacity for listening to others’ needs and points of view and be able to take these into account during treatment sessions.
Having integrity is an essential trait of a great ABA therapist. You have to maintain confidentiality and establish a relationship of trust and respect with your patients and their families.
Work well with others
ABA therapists work with many other people, including parents, teachers, counselors, and behavior analysts. To be a good therapist, you need to be able to get along with others and accept their constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement.
Although sometimes it may be challenging to be an ABA therapist, the end result is very rewarding. If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.
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