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When behavior analysts work with other professionals it is important to understand the roles and responsibilities of other team members, part of which necessitates self-reflection and cultural humility as well as understanding their colleague’s areas of competence. Real collaboration involves working together to accomplish joint goals and integrated care.
There are clear benefits of interprofessional collaborative practice for clients. It prevents unnecessary replication or conflicting treatments, promotes patient center care, closes the communication gaps, and promotes high quality comprehensive service delivery. For practitioners, interprofessional practice creates enriching professional and personal relationships and fosters professional growth and development. Interprofessional collaboration fosters a culture of teamwork among the contributing professionals which heightens treatment fidelity and commitment, increases generalization opportunities, and sustains effective team performance.
Lastly, when behavior analysts engage in interprofessional collaboration, the field of behavior analysis and their clients benefit. Genuine demonstrations of cultural humility increase the influence of the science of behavior because non-behavior analysts may be more willing to learn about it. The public reputation of behavior analysis can be one of interprofessional respect and collaborative effectiveness, which will ultimately promote the practice of behavior analysis to benefit society in meaningful ways. In the end, behavior analysts will achieve the ultimate goal of doing their part in making the world a better place.
As described in the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts Behavior analysts have a responsibility to collaborate with colleagues (Code 2.10) within the field and with professionals from other fields. The first principle described in the BACB®’s Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts states that behavior analysts must ensure they do no harm by respectfully collaborating with others in the interest of their clients (Core Principle 1).
When collaborating with other professionals, you are respecting each other’s professional backgrounds and professional priorities when discussing and creating clients’ goals, understanding the unique role each professional will hold within the collaborative relationship and communicating to enhance the client’s benefits when working together. Ensuring each professional has their own set of specific goals or mutually agreed upon shared goals and avoiding conflicting or unintended duplicative goals can save time and money for families.
At Trumpet Behavioral Health, it is strongly encouraged and favored to collaborate with other professionals to promote the best possible client outcomes. As stated on the Team Trumpet website, “Trumpet Behavioral Health views the professional relationships with teachers and healthcare professionals as a partnership. Together, we can meet the educational needs of children and adolescents on the autism spectrum (…) This approach provides the best possible treatment plan and services for each student with autism or other exceptional needs” (Trumpet Behavioral Health, 2022).
A few of Trumpet’s Northern California Division behavior analysts reported working with a number of Speech, OT, school BCBAs, school Psychologists, teachers, principals, childcare centers, preschool teachers, and doctors throughout their time at TBH. Among the clinicians interviewed, they were asked the following questions: How does Trumpet collaborate with other professionals in terms of providing the best care possible for our clients with autism? Clinicians responded that they “collaborate with other professionals to ensure continuity of services and strategies for the client and to ensure that overlapping goals can be addressed. Starting a collaborating relationship at the onset of services has helped to ensure families that interprofessional practice makes certain that all practitioners and teachers are fully helping each other and ensuring that our services are parallel.”
When asked what it means to collaborate with other professionals in the field, many responded that “it meant being open to feedback with each other and coming together to bring helpful and effective strategies.” Behavior Analysts at Trumpet believe in “being open to hearing the contributions and ideas as well as providing their contributions to the group.” At Trumpet, “when collaborating with other professionals it is important for our clients to generalize skills that we work on with them not just in different settings, but with other professionals as well”
Clinicians at Trumpet were asked, How does collaboration improve the overall quality of treatment? Many believe that “it can lead to better outcomes for the client and ultimately improve their quality of life. It ensures that all teams are on the same page and promotes working on the same goals to help increase the clients progress and generalization of skills across people and environments.”
Lastly, when asked if there was anything they believed that Trumpet does differently in terms of professional collaboration that sets us apart from other ABA therapy providers and many responded that “TBH asks implements the structure of the treatment at the beginning of the therapeutic relationship to ensure that families know what to expect when clinicians plan to collaborate. We work to explain to our families the benefits of collaboration with other professionals and encourage that all parties, caregivers included, to join in the collaboration in order to promote better client outcomes and to uphold our core values.”
In closing, having a cohesive therapy team is such an important part of the client’s success. An effective behavior analyst always looks to other disciplines for collaboration and maintains that collaborative relationship and communication throughout the client’s treatment. With the right interventions, clients can improve their behaviors and lead full, satisfying lives.
Trumpet Behavioral Health, 2022
Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts, 2020