Mandana Mohtasham is a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) with Patterson Behavior Services. In this role, she works directly with children to teach new skills and reduce challenging behaviors.
Mandana received her Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Psychology and a graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis from George Mason University in 2018. She has been an RBT for two years and is currently studying to become a behavior analyst. We asked her a few questions about what it is like to work in the field!
How did you decide to pursue a career in ABA?
I was drawn to the field because ABA allowed me to work directly with my clients, so I could see the exact impact that my work was making in their lives on an everyday basis.
You have a background in developmental psychology. How does ABA compare?
They overlap in many ways; it is important to know the developmental stages of a lifespan and to have knowledge in the age-group that you are working with. Psychology also encompasses many cultural factors and family dynamics that are extremely important to know when you are working in ABA.
Tell us about one of the most challenging behaviors you have encountered while working in the field. How did you handle it?
One of the most challenging behaviors I have encountered while working in the field was probably during an outburst of problem behaviors from a nonvocal client during an outing. It was important to ensure the safety of the client as well as the other customers, so I immediately provided verbal comfort to the client and modeled self management skills that we have been practicing, such as taking deep breaths and playing calm music. This immediately helped diffuse the situation, and the client was given verbal praise for calming down.
What do you think is your main strength in ABA?
I believe that my main strength in ABA is providing a warm and caring approach to my clients at all times, as well as being able to build a strong rapport with the family and maintaining an open line of communication to allow as much sharing of knowledge and generalization of skills.
If we did a preference assessment for you, which reinforcers would we find?
Probably salty foods like chips.
Have you ever created a behavior intervention plan for yourself? How did it go?
I did! I realized that long before I even knew about ABA, when I was only about 11 years old, I had created a schedule of reinforcement for myself by rewarding myself with an M&M for every page in my social studies chapter that I had to read. Despite social studies being my least favorite subject, the intervention was very successful and I swiftly read through my chapters.
You are studying to become a behavior analyst. What are you most looking forward to about being one?
Being able to create the treatment plans; I enjoy implementing the programs with the client too, but the most fun part about the field in my opinion is being able to analyze the behaviors and actually come up with the treatment plans. It’s like a puzzle that you have to figure out and solve.
If you would like to join the team, please let us know! We are always hiring behavior analysts and behavior technicians.