How long have you been working in this career field, and what attracted you to it?

I have been working in the field for ten years; the last 6 of those years have been as a BSC (Behavior Specialist Consultant).

Behavioral consultants are psychologists who work with patients/consumers who have behavioral issues, which may include those with developmental and mental disabilities.  It’s the behavioral consultant’s job to analyze how the patient behaves in various environments, such as home, school, and work. The consultant then develops a plan to address the behavioral problems, counsels the patient, and offer solutions. Behavioral consultants fall under the umbrella of psychologists, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for psychologists is expected to grow faster than average from 2010 to 2020, at a rate of 22 percent.

What does a typical day look like for you?

That is a hard question; every day is filled with varying settings, people, and responsibilities. I try to have 2-4 sessions a day, making sure I can have breaks between to grab a snack, do paperwork or check on my dog at home. Within the sessions, I could be at their homes, work setting, or in the community.

A typical session with a consumer (or consumer and their family) would include a behavioral consult and follow up from the last session to ensure their weekly goals and plans have been completed. Ideally, the consumer and I will enter the community to work on their goals directly and in the moment. Those goals could include meeting their needs (e.g., attending medical appointments), engaging socially appropriately with others, maintaining personal safety, completing tasks, communicate their needs, and advocate for themselves independently. I collect data throughout sessions.

Every day ends with paperwork. Paperwork is, by far, my least favorite work task. However, I have the benefit of reviewing their behavioral data and progress consistently. That lets the consumer, their team, and I know if the behavior plan is working or needs alterations.

You must have seen some challenging situations, what keeps you going every day?  

We work actively with adults to be visible, valued community members.

Also, I get to work with people, awesome people. All of my current consumers are committed to their behavior goals, and each of those goals is defined, operationalized, and acted on to improve their overall wellbeing and independence.

Is it hard to separate work and home life? 

It can be. You build a strong rapport with your consumers as a BSC. It takes practice to let the session end when you walk out the door.

What are the top skills you feel someone needs to do this job well?

Independence, Patience, and Flexibility- You are often 1:1, and you have to be able to maintain professionalism and competence in your job at all times.

 Tell us about one of your favorite moments with a client. 

I volunteer at the SPCA with a woman I work with. We were recently able to assist in post-op, use a microscope to spot heartworms, and even observe surgery!

What do you like best about working with HCBS?

It’s truly person-centered, and our behavioral team always comes together as a unit to support both clients and each other.

Today, due to the passionate Behavior Specialist Consultant’s like Jacqueline, it’s easier than ever for adults with special needs to live independently. Individuals with intellectual disabilities are thriving in their homes and communities every day.