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The Added Costs of Inadequate BCBA Supervision

I consider and present BCBA Supervision as I would a graduate course (if a little bit less formal!). Substantive differences include that it actually goes for a much longer period of time combined with ongoing and intensive 1:1 instruction using a diverse range of resources. Providing BCBA supervision correctly and consistently has been a major recurring problem across our field. Inadequate BCBA supervision has also made its own contribution to poor first time BCBA exam pass rates. I've worked with a lot of folks who know the material pretty well and are deeply invested in Applied Behavior Analysis but keep tripping over the exam. And experiences reported with regards to BCBA supervision has been a recurring theme from many folks. A number have identified that supervision not only did not help much but often made things more confusing. I've found individuals who discovered they needed more supervision hours after the BACB did its review for test eligibility because previous supervisors had made ongoing errors.​

If you've had 'supervision' which included being counted for a phone call; having the BCBA sit in on one of your client sessions and just talk a bit afterwards; having a BCaBA come in to give the BCBA information who signed off for the session; sitting in the BCBA's office for a general conversation about a child or two or three; getting individual credit despite having more than one BCBA student present; having a BCBA who could generally follow a 'script' but was otherwise unable to answer questions; being handed an article to read which you then kind of talked about for a short period; sitting in an office organizing behavior plans and/or data for the BCBA (doing the BCBA's work); not always being sure when the BCBA was even going to show up or what was planned for that session...more...then you are in good - if unfortunate - company.

Such supervision might be less expensive or, even, free based on a given agency. But be sure to check into how supervision is given and perceived..and by whom. The potential professional and financial cost of not learning what you need to know as a clinician, potentially having to pay for exam retakes; dealing with increasing levels of stress can well offset the lower initial out of pocket cost over time.

One important thing I've discovered over the past years is that the BCBA supervision process is not always taken very seriously by many supervisors and agencies. This leaves the supervisee on the short end of things. And even when a reasonable effort is made, many who supervise simply don't have the depth of knowledge, experience in the field and teaching competencies to be effective supervisors. I would offer than a newly certified BCBA should not even be able to take supervision CEUs until they at least have a solid year of clinical service and good references.

My current base block rate of $80 per 60 minutes or $95 for 90 minute weekly or biweekly sessions (with adequate experience hours accounted for) comes to no more than about $190 per month which is less than a grad course would cost for a semester....and is very competitive. It is my goal is to work with folks and to be accessible. And as noted, besides my extensive clinical background, I also bring about 10 years experience higher education graduate faculty

After working so hard for so long, be sure to approach BCBA supervision with the same expectations for yourself AND your Supervisor just as you would a graduate course and faculty. It is, perhaps, among the most important courses you will take in your graduate program towards depth of knowledge, building capacity as a clinician and becoming well prepared to sit for the BCBA exam.

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