Parents may seek the advice of a behavioral specialist consultant when their children have a disorder that affects behavior or if they experience severe behavioral problems that stem from other causes. A behavioral specialist consultant is an expert in assessing and treating behavioral problems that can affect a child's emotional growth or learning abilities. The role of a behavioral specialist consultant can vary by employment setting -- some interact directly with and treat clients while others act as care coordinators.
Education and Specific Training
In most cases, a behavioral specialist consultant should have at least a bachelor's degree in a mental health or education field, but some positions may require a master's degree. While it's not always required, a background in autism or developmental disabilities can be helpful. Many employers prefer candidates who have previous training or experience in behavior analysis. Candidates who wish to become certified in behavior analysis by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board must have a master's degree in behavior analysis, education or another approved field.
Possible Work Settings
Behavioral specialist consultants are employed in a variety of settings. They might work for agencies that specialize in specific childhood disorders, like autism, and deliver services in a child's home. They might also work in schools, community health centers or other similar locations to meet with families and children to provide treatment and intervention services. In most cases, behavioral specialist consultants work full-time. If they are employed in schools, they usually work during the day. If they are employed in other settings, they might work either day or evening hours. Some also work part-time or on weekends.
The specific tasks and responsibilities of a behavioral specialist consultant can vary by employment setting. Many behavioral specialist consultants provide behavioral assessments and offer assistance to help rectify any identified issues. For example, they might help children and their families understand the specific circumstances that could result in a particular behavior. They might provide education about the ways they might be able to prevent or improve the behavior. They may also teach children better coping skills and help their families develop healthier responses to the behavior. In some settings, behavioral specialist consultants act as case managers and help coordinate care services for a child. They might assist in identifying a child's specific needs and help the child and his family obtain and manage recommended services.
Behavioral specialist consultants must have the right personality for the job. Since they mainly work with children who have serious behavioral problems, they need to be patient, compassionate and understanding of their clients' needs. They must avoid getting frustrated or angry at their clients -- they should have excellent stress management skills to help prevent negative emotions from affecting their work. Good communication and people skills are essential, since they need to be able to clearly explain certain interventions to children and their families in a friendly yet professional manner. They should also have good problem-solving skills to help determine the appropriate intervention for a child's specific concerns.