UHCL: Behavior Analysis Program prepares well beyond certification

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20 October 2021

National demand for board certified behavior analysts increased by 800%,
Says HealthCare Recruiters International, a California Healthcare Recruitment Company
solidify. And meeting that need is a challenge – putting “BCBA” after your name requires
a rigorous graduate program of study, followed by an equally challenging national certification
exam.

The University of Houston-Clear Lake Behavior Analysis Program, a three-year master’s-level program, helps address this need by realizing
the best exam success rate in the country of the students taking the exam. In 2017, 2019 and
2020, every UH-Clear Lake student who took the exam passed on the first try,
compared to the national average success rate of just 66% in 2020.

While achieving the number one ranking in the United States is gratifying, psychology professor Dorothea Lerman said that the reason UHCL students do so well is the rigor of the classes, the training and the
the practical experience they receive.

“The written exam measures basic skills and basic knowledge, based on the course
content and a supervised experience, “she said.” But passing a test doesn’t necessarily mean
make someone a good behavior analyst. Our program builds on this to offer a broad
variety of hands-on experiences through our autism center, which is funded by the program
contracts and grants. ”

Lerman said students receive paid experience working with children and adults, teaching
social and communication skills, assess and address behavioral issues, provide
early intervention skills and training of parents and teachers. The Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities provides services at both UH-Clear Lake and UHCL in Pearland. “This makes our program unique and is reflected in our exam success rate,” she explained.

The small number of students in the UHCL behavior analysis program is deliberate, Lerman
continued. “We enjoy providing rigorous, high-quality training. The three-year program
has three faculty members, and we graduate from around 10 to 12 students per year, although
we receive 60 to 80 applications each year, ”she said. “Most of the students come to us with
an undergraduate degree in psychology or education, and we are seeking students with
some type of work or experience involving someone with a neurodevelopmental disorder
disability. We have a high bar for admission to the program. ”

Graduates of the course are in great demand to work in the field. “Our students are
highly sought after, ”Lerman said. “Especially in the Houston area, they have their
choice of jobs because of the school’s high reputation. Others go to cities across
in the United States, and a surprising number remain here even though they may not have originally been
from the Houston area. ”

Pia Som received her Master of Arts in Behavior Analysis in 2021 and is currently Clinical Director of the Virginia Institute of Autism.
in Charlottesville, a private school that helps children with autism learn skills
had to return to their home school.

“Interact with students who want to engage with others but are unsure of how
doing this is particularly rewarding because learning appropriate behaviors therefore opens up
lots of doors, ”Som said.“ Sometimes it’s hard to see progress in the moment, but when
we take a step back and see how a series of small changes add up to a significant overall result
progress is very rewarding. ”

He said his studies at UHCL had prepared him to succeed in both passing the certification
exam as well as his career. “When people pursue this line of work, their concentration
is often on the certification process and meets the requirements, ”he said. ” You
need more than just minimal knowledge. The UHCL faculty does an excellent job of
teach science, not teach a test. ”

He said he felt he had both knowledge and a solid conceptual basis. “We
have learned to consider multiple variables, ”he said. “They cared about us as people,
thanks to the low faculty-student ratio. I left with relationships with people
who have greatly influenced me and who will be my mentors for life. ”

Som noted that he entered the UHCL not knowing exactly what he wanted to do. “It’s the
value of electives, ”he said. “I took an undergraduate elective course in behavior
principles, and almost immediately fell in love with it and realized that it was
for me. Then my nephew was diagnosed with autism, which increased my interest. Those
all this led me to devote my studies to this discipline, to my great surprise. ”

He said his work at the Virginia Institute of Autism gave him the opportunity to do what he
was trained for. “In my work, I often meet someone who is going through a difficult period”,
he said. “It’s good to know that I can teach them the skills to help them enjoy life, to do
friends and be happier. ”

To learn more about UHCL’s behavior analysis program, go online.


This press release was produced by the University of Houston-Clear Lake. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.


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