AZA strives to create a supportive environment that inspires our staff to foster the caring culture that is key to the AZA experience. ABA Therapy is one of our primary services, and as we continue to grow and provide more services to families valley-wide, we continue to innovate how we can support our ABA staff. One of our intentions and practices is to provide our new and existing Behavior Technicians (BTs) a standard of care and support that is above and beyond the norm.
Since we launched in 2006, we have seen the ABA services industry expand, and we recognize that BTs generally fall into one of these groups: those who want to pursue a career in the field of ABA and become a BCBA, those who have some experience but are looking for more (and would prefer it be with an agency of a very high standard), and still others who simply love being a BT and want to hone skills to further improve their level of care.
Whatever their motivation or career intentions, there are common stress points which all may experience at some point. Highly sensitive to these, we have created a roadmap of support including 5 key approaches:
BTs are critical to a child’s success; they are foundational to our work with families and BCBAs can’t do their work without them. How well we onboard each new team member sets the tone of our ongoing attention and support.
Once an applicant has accepted their job offer, our HR team mobilizes to get trainings organized including technology equipment, compliance, and new BT orientation. In these, we cover everything related to the job, the expectations, and all digital platforms. Further, we help move them through the other required trainings including CPR, First Aid and Article 9.
New BTs are then scheduled for clinical training in our east or west valley centers. There they receive hands-on training including a 10-hour competency training. This includes foundational concepts that are relevant to starting with a brand-new client. New BTs also observe existing BTs working with clients and are then able to work with clients themselves in order to receive feedback on their clinical skills. In essence, we give our BTs the foundational concepts and ideas along with personalized attention and feedback.
When our new BTs are matched with their first client, they have overlap sessions with their BCBA. There is ongoing coaching with both BCBAs and Assistant Clinical Specialists (ACS). We create overlaps for up to 2 hours per session twice a month and an ACS will sometimes have their own overlaps. During these sessions, BTs work with the client under supervision and are provided constructive and positive coaching which they then implement.
All AZA United BTs are required to become Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). This certification ensures certain requirements are met in delivering behavior analytic services. To earn RBT credentialling, BTs must meet eligibility requirements such as completion of a 40-hour training, a competency assessment and passing the RBT exam. We work to get our team members credentialed within the first 6 months of employment. While some agencies may feel an urgency to rush their BTs into becoming RBTs, we see it differently: we want our BTs to get comfortable with everything before they begin their RBT training.
In addition to ensuring all BTs successfully become RBTs, we provide BT professional development trainings every month, which is also uncommon in the industry. Presentations include topics related to yearly and quarterly themes, such as trauma-assumed or assent-based treatment approaches. In addition to a presentation, BTs go into breakout groups and discuss a variety of questions related to the PD topic so they can exchange information, discuss best practices, and ask questions. We have found that our BTs greatly value and appreciate these development trainings. We even record them so if BTs can’t make it, they have access to the recordings later.
Layered onto the professional development training, we highlight behavior analytic terms and concepts through Terminology Tuesdays, offer additional learning opportunities through our collaborative Lunch & Learns, and have casual conversations about burnout and self-care through our Coffee & Collaborations events.
Because there are times when our BTs need additional support, we have put in place a way to have field training on specific competencies with a more experienced clinician. Our BT2s model how to implement strategies, such as how to build rapport with clients or how to implement certain programs.
Another thing that sets us apart is our BT workshops and social get-togethers. An extension of our PD trainings, we have half-day workshops to learn additional skills and to have social interaction. Dedicated to innovation, we are always considering new, relevant content.
We also do BT socials to keep the BTs feeling they are part of a team and not out on their own. Further, we use our Behavior Team channel through Microsoft Teams to give recognition, offer support, keep technicians informed and build our BT community. It’s important to AZA that our BTs know there is always someone on their side – that we have key staff they know they can reach out to for any of their needs.
As an organization, we offer a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program and innovative wellness platform called LifeWorks.
With this program, BTs can improve their physical, mental, social, and financial wellbeing. The platform has wellbeing assessments and challenges that BTs can participate in such as building healthier habits or step challenges to get involved in. Additionally, the program offers up to 5 free counseling sessions. At AZA, we are sensitive to the challenges the technicians face and work to offer additional supports.
We have found that our layered approach to support our BTs (and all of Team AZA) is a successful approach. In fact, according to our monthly anonymous employee survey, a remarkable 96% of our staff would recommend us as an employer to a friend.
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