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The Behavioral Observations Podcast with Matt Cicoria

This is a podcast about the field of Behavior Analysis. Each episode will feature an interview with a Behavior Analyst where we discuss a specific topic in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. Some of these topics include functional behavioral assessment, treating severe behavioral disorders such as aggression and self-injurious behavior, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), behavioral ethics, autism treatment, parenting, and the history of Applied Behavior Analysis.
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The Behavioral Observations Podcast with Matt Cicoria
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Now displaying: May, 2021
May 27, 2021

Rather than writing up a compelling introduction to this episode, I'm tempted to say, "just listen to the whole thing!" and leave it there. In Session 158, I chat with one of my oldest friends and Auburn classmate (obligatory "War Eagle!"), Dr. Jim Murphy from the University of Memphis, about the impossibly-broad topic of Substance Use Disorders (SUDs).

Fortunately for us, Jim has spent over 20 years studying this issue from Behavior Analytic/Behavioral Economic points of view, and he has developed an uncanny ability to discuss these complicated repertoires in easy to understand, everyday terms.

As such, in this episode we cover the following:

  • How the environment often plays a key role in substance use.
  • Why the abstinence model for problem drinkers may not be the best fit for some individuals.
  • Why the terms, "alcoholic," and "addict," are neither descriptive, nor helpful.
  • Why we should be more concerned about binge drinkers.
  • How alcohol increases social interactions.
  • How certain age-ranges are at risk for binge-style use patterns.
  • What is Motivational Interviewing, and how it can be used to address binge drinking.
  • The differences in substance use patterns between young adults who do and don't go to college.
  • How developing hobbies and other values-based activities can help curb problem drinking.
  • What does the research say about Alcoholics Anonymous and similar 12-step programs, and in general, the pros and cons of these approaches.
  • How using a Hypothetical Demand Curve analysis can be used to assess motivation to reduce drinking behavior.
  • Why BCBAs should consider getting training in Motivational Interviewing.

Jim was also kind enough to stick around after the interview for a few more minutes in the commercial-free Patreon feed. In this bonus segment, Jim shares his thoughts on drug legalization in America, particularly the legalization of cannabis. If you're interested in checking this out, as well as partaking in other Patreon-only benefits, check out patreon.com/behavioralobservations.

Here are the links to the resources we discussed:

Please permit me a few quick housekeeping notes:

  • We had a few connection issues, so the audio fades in a few places, but I don't think it detracts from the overall content of the show.
  • As with Session 157, this episode was recorded in December of 2020, so there may be a few time-based references that will seem out of sync... however, I don't think they have much bearing on the overall gist of the podcast.

This episode is brought to you today with the generous support of:

  • Institutional Tier Patron Greenspace Behavioral Technology. For more information on their products and services check out greenspacebehavior.com.
  • The Whoop Strap! I've been wearing the Whoop Strap for just a few weeks and I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed getting quantitative information on all aspects of my health, including sleep analytics, heart rate, along with heart rate variability, calorie burn, exercise intensity, and Whoop's proprietary "strain" score. I could extol this neat device's virtues indefinitely to you, but instead, you can go check it out for yourself. To get your first month free, head over to behavioralobservations.com/whoop! Also, feel free to join the Behavior Analysts who Whoop Facebook group!
  • Behavior University. Their mission is to provide university quality professional development for the busy Behavior Analyst. Learn about their CEU offerings, including their brand new 8-hour Supervision Course, as well as their RBT offerings over at behavioruniversity.com/observations.
  • Consider joining the BOP Patreon. Patreon members get early access to podcasts, bonus podcast material, discounts on CEU events from FTF and other continuing ed purveyors, occasional Zoom hangouts, and more!
May 18, 2021

Dr. Becca Tagg from Del Mar Behavioral Health joins me to discuss the unique approach her agency uses to train early-career BCBAs. This conversation was inspired by the interview I conducted with Dr. Mary Jane Weiss last year, in which we talked about how cool it would be if the field had an ABA equivalent of a medical residency model, so that BCBAs can learn about practicing with a variety of populations.

As you'll hear in the interview, Becca heard this and reached out to say that this is exactly what they do, and we spend the majority of the conversation discussing just how they implement this unique training strategy.

Before we get to the residency topic, we spent a little bit of time catching up since our last chat, and especially focus on how Del Mar's services adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic. To this end, I should also note that we recorded this conversation in December, and as such, some of the references may seem a bit anachronistic, but many of these challenges are still with us in the Spring of 2021, so I chose to keep that part of the conversation in this episode.

If you like these types of topics, I suggest that you join the ABA Business Builders Facebook Group if you haven't already done so. While you're there, say hello to Becca!

Here are the links to resources we discussed:

This episode of Behavioral Observations was brought to you with support from:

  • HRIC Recruiting. Barb Voss has been placing BCBAs in permanent positions throughout the US for just about a decade, and has been in the business more generally for 30 years. When you work with HRIC, you work directly with Barb, thereby accessing highly personalized service. So if you're about to graduate, you're looking for a change of pace, or you just want to know if the grass really is greener on the other side, head over to HRIColorado.com to schedule a confidential chat right away.
  • Consider joining the BOP Patreon. Patreon members get early access to podcasts, bonus podcast material, discounts on CEU events from FTF and other continuing ed purveyors, occasional Zoom hangouts, and more!
  • The Whoop Strap! I've been wearing the Whoop Strap for just a few weeks and I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed getting quantitative information on all aspects of my health, including sleep analytics, heart rate, along with heart rate variability, calorie burn, exercise intensity, and Whoop's proprietary "strain" score. I could extol this neat device's virtues indefinitely to you, but instead, you can go check it out for yourself. To get your first month free, head over to behavioralobservations.com/whoop! Also, feel free to join the Behavior Analysts who Whoop Facebook group!
May 4, 2021

Dr. Adithyan "Dithu" Rajaraman joins me in Session 156 to discuss his work in the Practical Functional Assessment/Skills-Based Treatment literature. 

Dithu is a former student of pod-fave Dr. Greg Hanley, and as one might expect, Dithu approaches his work with a similar degree of humility and open-mindedness. He earned his Ph.D. at Western New England University, and is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County 

As we discuss in the first few minutes of the show, I met Dithu about four or five years ago at APBA, and I was instantly struck with how well he communicated complex ideas in a manner that just about anybody can understand. We've kept in touch since then, and I was fortunate enough to find a time where we could get together for an in-depth conversation on the podcast. 

In this episode, we covered his entry into the field of ABA, the seemingly false distinction of behavior-reduction vs. skill instruction, the basics of the Practical Functional Assessment and Skills-Based Treatment models, dealing with caregiver objections to these approaches, Dithu's research on what he calls the Enhanced Choice Model of skill instruction, implementing these procedures in public school settings, and much more. We also talk about how he stumped me with a question when I was a panelist at an ABAI event…

You’re going to want to stay through to the very end because Dithu provides some really unique advice – not only for newly-minted BCBAs, but practitioners of all experience levels.

The Patreon version of this show involves an extra 45-50 minutes of content, in which we talk about Dithu’s passion for the sport Cricket and field questions from Patrons. Last but not least, Dithu, as some of you might know, is quite the singer, and he ends the bonus footage by sharing his vocal stylings. To get access to this content, as well as commercial-free podcast feeds, discounts on FTF trainings, and more, check out patreon.com/behavioralobservations. And while we’re on the topic of Patreon, Dithu has agreed to do a Zoom call with members, where he’ll take questions directly from listeners.

I should also add that Dithu insisted I give some shoutouts to the following folks who helped him with his research, and they include the aforementioned Greg Hanley, as well as Holly Gover, Johanna Staubitz, John Staubitz, Kathleen Simcoe, Rachel Metras, Robin Landa, and Kelsey Ruppel. This research has been recently published in Behavior Analysis in Practice as well, so I recommend you check it out when you get a chance. 

If you like Dithu's approach and want to learn more from him, my friends at Behavior University are hosting a webinar with him titled: Enhanced Choice Model: Trauma-informed Process for Assessing and Treating Dangerous Behavior. Behavior University is a sponsor of the podcast, and if you'd like to save on your registration for this event, use the code PODCAST at checkout. 

Also, if you're looking for a grad program and you really want to dive deep into this area, UMBC is always accepting applicants to their Master's program in ABA, which is closely affiliated with the Kennedy Krieger Institute, and that Dithu is accepting doctoral students in the Applied Developmental Psychology program. 

In addition to Behavior University and the Patreon Group, this episode is also brought to you by How-to-ABABeing a BCBA can be lonely and overwhelming.  At howtoaba.com, we help BCBA’s feel supported and confident by providing easy to access printables, CEU's and a collaborative community. Also, your monthly pro membership includes access to CEU’s! Along with the community of over 1000 ABA professionals, howtoaba.com will help you save time, feel confident and master what you love! For more information, Go to howtoaba.com/joinbxresource.  When you join today and use code BOP, you’ll receive 10% off a yearly subscription (includes CEU’s!).

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