Attending professional conferences is an important way for Behavior Analysts to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the field - but they are also so much more! Here are the top 5 reasons we love attending professional conferences.
1. Continuing Education - Behavior Analysts are required to get a certain number of Continuing Education (CEs) credits to maintain their certification. Although you can get CEs online or by attending local workshops, CEs are also offered at professional conferences, and sometimes at a great value. Often, a BCBA can get all of the required CEs by attending one or two conferences. CEs can be obtained by attending symposia, workshops, and panel discussions on a variety of topics .
2. Research Collaboration - We love to present our research at professional conferences because it gives us the opportunity to get feedback from other students, clinicians, professors, and researchers. We get to meet other professionals in the field who are working on similar ideas and collaborate and discuss some of the great developments in the field. ABACS has presented on a variety of topics at conferences including functional analyses, the use of a function-based treatment to reduce PICA, and teaching problem-solving.
3. Networking – One of the great things about attending conferences is the opportunity to network with other professionals! People from all over the world attend the Annual Convention put on by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), the Annual Conference put on by the Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis and Therapy (BABAT ), and the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA) – some of the conferences that we attend annually. We get to talk with old friends that we haven’t seen in a while, and make new contacts for collaboration in research or clinical work.
4. Travel – Although there are local workshops that you can attend as a BCBA, attending other conferences lets you see part of the country that you may not otherwise have visited. ABAI’s Annual Convention and the APBA conference are each in a new city every year, with cities such as Washington, DC; Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; and San Francisco, CA coming up in the next few years. There’s also nothing like visiting western Massachusetts in October when the leaves are changing, for the annual BABAT conference – this is one of the most beautiful conference locations I’ve visited!
5. Inspiration – Behavior Analysts do amazing work each and every day to make significant changes in the lives of their clients, but it can be tough work sometimes. When we attend conferences, we come back inspired, enthused, and motivated about our field and all that we do. It can be a great re-set button for the next year .
Stephanie Phelan, BCBA, is a Clinical Director at ABACS.