When seeking new providers to treat our patients and clients, Thompson Center leadership looks for dedicated, passionate people whose goals closely align with the missions of the Center: clinical care, research and training. When looking to expand the faculty for the Thompson Center Applied Behavioral Intervention Service (ABIS) team, Center leaders had an easy time matching our missions to the newest ABIS provider: Dr. Lorraine Becerra.
Growing up in southern California, Dr. Becerra has always been interested in understanding and teaching behavior; a passion that will follow her throughout her path to the Thompson Center. After earning a bachelor’s degree in developmental psychology from UCLA and a master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) from Cal. St. Northridge, Becerra worked with children in special needs in school districts and in home to help them learn socially appropriate positive behaviors.
Throughout her studies and her work with ABA, Becerra’s conviction toward spreading ABA and its effective practices continued to grow.
“ABA can be so effective and it’s so clear and straightforward,” Becerra said. “Being able to see progress in clients, not only visually with how they improve, but also through the data we collect, it is very rewarding.”
In order to continue advance her work with ABA, Becerra chose to pursue a doctoral degree at Utah State University. While Becerra already had the skills and knowledge to implement ABA with her clients, it was during her doctoral studies that she grew her passion for research and training, thus making her a perfect fit at the Thompson Center after earning her degree.
In addition to joining the Thompson Center ABIS faculty, Becerra holds a position as an assistant teaching professor of special education in the University of Missouri College of Education.
“Dr. Becerra’s rich background in skill building programs in early intensive intervention programs for children with ASD made her an obvious addition to the Thompson Center team,” said Dr. Casey Clay, the director of the Thompson Center ABIS division. “Dr. Becerra has held leadership positions on multiple professional organizations in our field and has performed strong research with multiple publications in leading journals focused on ABA.”
“The opportunity to teach students in a real-life learning laboratory such as the Thompson Center is just fantastic,” Becerra said. “Most ABA master’s programs don’t provide the opportunity for faculty to directly observe and train students while they are implementing ABA on children with special needs, which is why the Thompson Center and Mizzou turn out some of the most prepared ABA providers each year.”
To complete the “Thompson Center trifecta,” Dr. Becerra also is passionate about pursuing research into the field of ABA. She has plans to advance her ongoing research on the best practices for implementing ABA as well as best practices for efficient training of students as well as safety strategies for keeping both practitioners and clients safe.
“I really am so excited to be at the Thompson Center and the University of Missouri,” Becerra said. “The opportunity to work with so many amazing children, specifically those with autism, truly is amazing. Growing up with family members with autism, albeit undiagnosed at the time, I was able to gain perspective on the importance of this work. Couple that with the opportunities to train students and advance ABA research and it really seems to be a perfect fit for me.”
A perfect fit the Thompson Center is proud to make.