Depending on where you live, finding quality supervision for your BACB field experience can be a challenge. In the best case scenario, your employer offers free supervision as part of your job and you can use your paid position as your field placement. This is ideal, but it’s not always the case. If you are having difficulty finding in-person supervision, you may be thinking about finding an online supervisor.
Online BCBA supervision can be a great option for some people, but it is clearly not for everyone. I have been providing both online and in-person BCBA supervision for the past seven years and in the next few paragraphs, I am going to present my thoughts and guidelines about using an online BCBA supervisor.
In-person is Best: Overall, on-site, in-person supervision is best. Having a supervisor on-site allows you to get point of performance feedback, have ongoing access to consultation and allows you to have access to someone who can model techniques and interventions in real time. Regrettably, in some situations, even with an in-person supervisor, you will not get all of these benefits, as the supervisor may only be accessible for limited amounts of time and will have regulated availability. In these situations, you may want to consider finding an online supervisor.
Cost: The cost of in-person and online supervision varies. I offer reduced rates for online supervision, as I am working out of a home office and have flexibility in my observation time. Keep in mind that the cheapest supervision is not always the best option.
References: When I started providing online supervision in 2012, there were very few online BCBA supervision options out there. Now there are tons. Do yourself a favor and research any potential supervisor. Get references, search them online, talk to their current and past supervisees. If they can’t give you references, take a pass. Being a BCBA does not necessarily make you a good supervisor. The last you want to do is find yourself wasting your time and money.
Direct Observation and Video: You need to be observed by your supervisor. If your supervisor is on-site, this is not a problem. If you want to do online supervision, you will need to be able to share video of yourself providing ABA services. This means you will need specialized permission from clients/parents/guardians in order to take video. Depending on your site, this can be problematic.
Sharing Video: If you are going to be sharing video of clients online, be sure that your supervisor is using a HIPPA-compliant system that ensures client confidentiality. If you are not using a confidential system, you are potentially in violation of the BACB ethics code. If your chosen supervisor is not using a confidential system, I suggest you work to correct this ASAP.
Communication: While good communication is always important, with online BCBA supervision, it is imperative. Both supervisee and supervisor must be very responsive to each other’s concerns. With my online supervisees, my goal is to respond to any communication within two hours. Being that you are not on-site together, it is important to use both electronic/phone/video communication systems in order to create a working relationship. Supervisees must be very clear and active in their communication, sharing data, documents and video in a timely manner. While online supervisors cannot be available at all times, they should be very responsive and able to assist their supervisees in an efficient manner. Having a supervisor who doesn’t respond in a timely manner? Well, it’s a bad sign.
Previous Experience: If you have no experience in working in the ABA field, I suggest you find a local supervisor. I only work with online supervisees who have some level of experience and demonstrate a high level of professionalism in their work. Finding yourself in a complex situation with no one around to help, can be problematic and possibly unethical.
I tell everyone that entering into BCBA supervision is typically a long-term commitment. Take your time and find the right person. If online supervision is your only option, ensure that all of the BACB requirements are being met and that your supervisor has the experience and the systems established to make your supervision both effective and ethical.
If you have any questions or would like to talk more about online BCBA supervision, feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You will hear from me.