Recently, I have had several people ask me what the benefit is of being dually certified as a Speech Language Pathologist and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. It has been an interesting question to ponder. For starters, both certifications have been hugely beneficial for my career and my ongoing job satisfaction. Broadly speaking, I think the overarching benefit is the interprofessional perspective that I am able to apply to everything I do.
For example, as an educator, part of my job entails motivating students to engage with their education. Understanding the ins and outs of human behavior have been hugely beneficial in this effort. I am also responsible for communicating with students and colleagues on a daily basis. Having a thorough understanding of social communication and pragmatic language helps me navigate what can be very crucial conversations. Dual certification has also greatly enhanced my ability to teach my students the difference between multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary. Simply having different therapists on the team does not integrate the critical services and levels of expertise that are necessary for individuals with disabilities to thrive! Understanding and teaching the importance of interprofessional collaboration is one of the most critical things I can instill in my students.
As a researcher, having the investigative skills I was taught in both disciplines helps me view problems and potential research projects from a unique perspective. I often do research with individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which means it is critical that I understand the communication strengths and deficits displayed by individuals on the spectrum. At the same time, it is imperative that I understand the heterogeneity and differences present in individuals with ASD. This heterogeneity is often best addressed through Single Case Design (aka Single Subject Design) methodology that I learned extensively through my studies to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.
Early in my career as a Speech Language Pathologist, I used to “fight” what I considered to be old school methodology of “ABA therapy”, that is until I had a complete and enlightened understanding of the scientific principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. As I learned more and more about the study of human behavior, I realized that the principles had been present in my work as a Speech Pathologist all along! An additional benefit of being dually certified is that I am more purposeful with my intervention structure. As I become a more skilled clinician, I see better outcomes for my clients.
Personally, my journey as an SLP and a BCBA has been amazing and the people I have met along the way are some of the highlights! I have colleagues with expertise in so many things and I gain new insights from my interprofessional relationships. I enjoying viewing the world from multiple lenses with valid viewpoints.