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School of Health Professions Partners with Thompson Center for New Master’s Program in Applied Behavior Analysis

COLUMBIA — Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, is one of the most effective treatments for children with autism, but the work is so specialized that a provider shortage across the country, as well as in Missouri, keeps many children from receiving needed services in their communities.

With a new master’s degree in ABA, SHP and the Thompson Center are providing much needed training in a critical area of healthcare for families across Missouri.

“Our hope is that students will graduate, sit for the exam to become certified ABA providers, known as Board Certified Behavior Analysts, and begin practicing in local communities, where ABA services are in great demand,” said Assistant Visiting Professor Casey Clay, who is supervising the students in the practicum portion of the program.

Dean of MU School of Health Professions, Kristofer Hagglund, also noted that the new program aligns with the school’s mission to improve the health and well-being of others, “It’s exciting that our faculty and clinicians are able to identify the health needs of our communities and then meet those needs through new educational and training programs, clinical services, and through state-of-the-art translational research. Our graduates are critical health care providers and leaders in communities across Missouri.”

The program, was developed by Dr. SungWoo Kahng, Associate Professor and Department Chair of the Department of Health Psychology at MU, and the Director of the Applied Behavioral Intervention Services Division at the Thompson Center. It will include an average of 25 hours per week of an intensive practicum experience at the Thompson Center working in one of the ABA-based clinics, including Early Intensive Behavior Intervention, Severe Behavior Clinic, Behavior Parent Training Clinic, ISAP (Intensive Skill Acquisition Program), Leaps Ahead and Tiger Pals. Dr. Kahng added, “Our goal is to train students to become exceptional practitioners of ABA-based interventions to improve the quality of life for people with behavioral needs.”

“This new ABA program is one way that SHP and the Thompson Center are working to alleviate the shortage of qualified behavior analysts in Missouri,” said Thompson Center Executive Director Stephen Kanne. “As the program grows, our goal is to see more service providers throughout the state who can work with children with autism locally, without requiring families to travel long distances to get services.”

The program is now accepting applications for the fall of 2017. Applicants should have prior academic or service experience in ABA. Interested applicants can visit the MU School of Health Professions Department of Health Psychology website for more information.