New program at PSU produces much needed specialists

Psu Prof And His Student

PITTSBURG, Kan. – A new PSU program is tackling our nation’s behavior analyst shortage by offering a Masters of Science with an emphasis in behavior analysis.

Behavior analysts deal with a variety of behavioral health issues including substance abuse, suicidal tendencies, autism, and more.

“You’re teaching new repertoires of behavior. You’re helping that person ultimately achieve their goals and what they want because it’s a study of learning and motivation,” said PSU Assistant Professor of Psychology and Counseling Ryan Speelman.

There’s currently 8 students in the program and one of them is Erykah McClendon who will soon be getting her degree.

She’s passionate about helping kids and also interns as a behavior therapist at the Bill and Virginia Leffen Center for Autism in Joplin.

“I’ve always been a people watcher and before I was kind of a bystander, but now the wheels get to turning and it’s like, ‘Oooh, I wonder, what could be the function of that? What can we do to make it better for them,'” said McClendon.

Erykah’s assistant professor, Dr. Ryan Speelman says behavior analysts can work in a wide variety of arenas helping people find solutions for behavioral issues.

“You’re going to train other professionals, whether they’re in the school setting or a clinical setting, to implement the plan, and a lot of the assessment has to do with the ‘why,’ the why behavior occurs,” said Speelman.

And he’s also hoping any current or future students who read this and are considering a career as a behavior analyst reach out to his department to learn more.