The SixBoxes Blog Banner Image
Jan 01 2023
Strengthening Clinical Supervision in ABA Organizations


As organizational performance consultants, we often help companies accelerate business results and gain a competitive advantage by strengthening their leadership and management capabilities. For example, when working with organizations offering applied behavior analysis services (ABA) to individuals with autism spectrum disorder, we often focus on improving the effectiveness of clinical supervision delivered by behavior analysts and assistant behavior analysts. 

We use an accomplishment-based coaching process to help clinical supervisors develop behavior technicians' performance and engagement, maximize trainees' impact, and continuously improve the quality of services delivered by those they supervise. We focus first on the valuable contributions or accomplishments they provide to the organization (e.g., accurate client records, treatment plans, program modification decisions, relationships, etc.). Next, we determine what behavior is needed to produce those accomplishments and then arrange conditions to support that behavior.

This approach, called Performance Thinking , enables supervisors to define and improve performance using two simple visual models with plain English labels. The Performance Chain, Six Boxes® Model, and an easy-to-follow Performance Improvement Logic provide a framework for defining performance and configuring conditions to develop, improve, and support trainees' or supervisees' performance.  The Six Boxes® Model encompasses all the factors or influences known from behavioral research and practical application to influence behavior.

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB®) recently sent an email reminding certificants of many helpful resources to support the supervision, assessment, training, and oversight of behavior technicians and behavior analysts in training. If you are a clinical leader responsible for defining and supporting the supervision processes in your organization, those resources can be valuable as you:

  • Ensure that clinical practice and supervision processes meet compliance requirements. 
  • Develop and refine job descriptions for supervisory roles.
  • Set expectations for supervisors and supervisees, link those expectations to organizational results and align consequences with expectations and feedback.
  • Establish performance objectives for supervisors and trainers.
  • Define the criteria for the performance of specific types of supervision (e.g., case supervision and staff supervision).
  • Describe best practices behavior for supervisors. 
  • Identify performance metrics and design systems to measure the performance of supervisors and supervisees.
  • Arrange opportunities for supervisors and supervisees to receive relevant, timely, specific feedback about their performance against expectations.
  • Design training that supports exemplary supervision practices.
  • Enable supervisors to achieve fluent skills and knowledge and use tools for planning, implementing, and documenting all types of supervision.
  • Define selection criteria for applicants for behavior technician and clinical supervisor roles.

To ensure quality supervision, clinical leaders must set clear expectations, provide meaningful feedback, support performance with accurate & easy-to-use information resources, and reward good performance. In addition, clinical supervisors must be able to communicate and collaborate with direct reports about their performance and the factors that support or obstruct it and establish agreed-upon action steps for continuous development. In short, they must learn how to use the resources listed by the BACB® to achieve quality, compliance, and employee development goals.

Performance Thinking® models and programs offer flexible, powerful means for managing, coaching, and continuously developing employees to support high-quality service delivery, making them an excellent fit for behavior analysts responsible for directing and supervising those who deliver ABA services.

For more about accomplishment-based coaching, here is a short YouTube playlist and a more extended webinar .

-       - Shane Isley, BCBA, Senior Consultant


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