What makes a suitable therapist?
A therapist intimately works with your child for some period and will no doubt gain many sensitive information about the family life. There are many considerations when finding a suitable therapist in the hopes that they can help improve your child’s skills in some way. Here’s some important qualities to look for in a therapist.
Unfortunately, anyone can call themselves an ‘ABA therapist’ or ‘Behavior Analyst’. This means that some individuals may implement “ABA” techniques that actually have no relation to ABA at all. As parents, how can we tell whether the person is qualified or has the right experience?
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) is a regulatory body in the US that offers internationally recognised professional certifications and ensure service providers meet ethical guidelines. As of May 2019, there are less than 100 Board Certified Behavior Analysts (Master’s Level certification) in the whole of China (including Hong Kong). Currently, there are 4 certifications levels in behaviour analysis which must be earned and maintained. Therefore, please ensure the therapist providing ABA services has the relevant training, qualifications and experience.
One of the most basic requirements of any childhood educator. The therapist has to be a person who loves to work and be around children. Before any teaching takes place, a therapist needs to be able to establish a good rapport with the child. Learning and behavior changes can come much more easily if the child enjoys the therapist’s company.
Therapists may have to deal with very challenging behaviours including self-injurious behaviours. Sometimes, therapists may even be the target of insults or physical attacks. In these situations, therapists must be able to keep calm with a straight face. Only then can the therapists observe and analyse the situation without affecting the child with their own emotional responses.
Good Communicator & Listener
It is the responsibility of the therapist to regularly update a child’s progress. Parents can only be actively involved in their development once they have been closely informed. Therapists should be able to explain parental strategies in a way that parents can follow a therapist’s recommendations. Communication is a two-way process, therefore therapists should be able to listen and address parent's concerns.
The therapist should take responsibility for a child’s learning. If a therapist encounters a problem in teaching or managing a behavior, they shouldn’t ignore it or move on. A good therapist would actively seek for a solution to overcome this problem.
Therapist determines a goal and break it down into small teachable steps. Hence it is a long progress with maybe only seeing small significant changes at a time. A therapist may also have to try and experiment with different methods to find the one that matches the child’s style of learning. So teaching requires lot of patience!