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Career Story: Developmental Disability Case Worker

Developmental Disability Case Worker

Job Title: Behavioral Psychologist

Type of Company: I work for a non-profit agency which offers mental health, developmental disability and advocacy benefits and other services and has been a leading provider of human services in Massachusetts for over 32 years.

Education: BA, Counseling and Educational Psychology, New Mexico State University •• MA, Psychology, New Mexico State University •• Ph.D., Education, Ohio University

Previous Experience: I worked in a variety of mental health facilities directly after college. I then worked for a non-profit agency serving adjudicated adolescents, worked as a crisis clinician and served as an advocate in the juvenile justice system.

Job Tasks: I oversee and direct treatment teams working with individuals who have developmental disabilities and currently have a case load of approximately 75 individuals and their families. I write and implement behavioral plans to assist in managing difficult behaviors as well as collect data, provide reinforcement, and determine frequency schedules.

A typical day for me would include meeting with a number of individuals and their treatment teams, gaining perspective on how the subjects are doing based on direct feedback from the team, determining what steps need to be taken next to ensure that they continue to get the best possible care and evaluating the progress they've made based on hard data, observable and measurable behavior. Within this framework, human rights are always protected with honor and dignity. I also meet with individuals individually for treatment and counseling where the individual discusses concerns, fears, updates, etc and moves toward measurable goals and objectives to make his or her life more manageable. I also coordinate the overall team of psychologists and behavioral technicians in our catchment area by overseeing the day to day administrative responsibilities of scheduling, crisis on-call, reimbursement requests, payroll and general administrative support.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is watching individuals grow, change, mature and become freer and more independent members of our society. Assisting someone to become the sort of person he wants gives me the greatest satisfaction.

The worst part of my job is my 1 hour and 10 minute commute!

Job Tips: Coming from a psychology background, I never imagined working with individuals with developmental disabilities. Keep your options open and pursue things that you might be afraid of pursuing. Push past the fear and try something new.

Look for ways to be valued. Create a role or responsibility that others may need or come to depend on. Do something that not everyone else can do and do it with passion.

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