Name: Ashley Gibbs, OTR/L, BCBA
Date graduated: December 2017
Degree graduated with: Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
Where are you now [city, state]: Atlanta, GA (soon to be Frankfurt, Germany)
What did you like about the program? I feel that the M.S. in ABA program at Georgia State does a wonderful job of educating students to be practitioners and scientists. ABA is most known as an intervention for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), but it truly is a widely applicable science. Georgia State provides a well-rounded education that emphasizes the science of ABA and its applicability in many areas of life.
Where are you working now? What are your job duties? I am currently working for an ABA provider in the metro-Atlanta area, where I conduct skills and functional behavior assessments, develop individualized goals and treatment plans, and supervise registered behavior technicians as they implement the programs I’ve created. I have recently accepted a clinical director position in the Frankfurt, Germany area, where I will be responsible for supervising and training therapists, monitoring client therapeutic progress, evaluating staff performance, and working directly with clients.
Words of encouragement for current students? While classes and school responsibilities in addition to gaining supervised experience hours can seem overwhelming at times, everything you are learning is directly applicable to the work that you do. I cannot tell you how often I have gone back and referenced my textbooks or my notes from previous classes. Additionally, every professor in the program is amazing, brilliant and supportive. You are with some of the best people who will set you up for success in your career.
Do you remember a favorite course or project that you worked on while studying? I have three projects that I would say were my favorite! The first was an assignment in the Ethics for Behavior Analysts course, interviewing a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA). It was great to hear the real-life experiences of clinicians working through ethical dilemmas. The second was an assignment in the Methods of Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders course to complete a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA), determine which replacement skills to teach, and develop appropriate antecedent and consequence interventions. This is a required skill for a BCBA working in applied settings and getting to complete the entire process with guidance and feedback was excellent. The final assignment was a major project that spanned two courses, Methods in/Applications of Single-Case Design, in which I developed a research question, completed a research proposal and in Institutional Review Board (IRB) submission, and carried out the study I designed. That project resulted in my first publication in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and sparked my interest in applied research.
Do you have a research focus, and are you working within that focus now? I love applied research and it’s one small part of the ongoing work being done to bridge the gap between research and clinical practice. My research focuses on interventions to facilitate generative language and derived relational responding in learners with ASD and intellectual or developmental disability (IDD). I have had the opportunity to implement and manage multiple research projects in addition to my clinical caseload, and I look forward to continuing to do so in my new position.