Supervising Dynamically: Using ACT in BCBA Supervision

16 Learning CEs including 3 ethics and 3 supervision.  

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Series Overview

Behavior Analysis has a lot to say about the mechanics of supervision.  You already know how to be a great supervisor.  But knowing what to do doesn't change a simple fact: you're a human being too and you're subject to all the same laws and principles you're expected to apply to others.  What you “ought to do” isn’t always the easy thing to do, and human beings, through millions of years of evolution, are designed to do the easy thing. 


This makes it hard to: 

  • Have difficult conversations that make a difference,

  • Deal effectively with uncooperative and upset supervisees,

  • Implement the practices that reduce burnout and resignation while promoting passionate engagement in one’s work.  

Applied to supervisory skills, Acceptance and Commitment Training is a powerful tool for developing one’s self as such a supervisor.  In this eight-session course, you will explore yourself as a supervisor and develop your supervision practices from within an ACT framework.  Applying core ACT processes such as mindful awareness, defusion, acceptance, and values, you’ll identify situations where you get thwarted in what you “know to do,” and learn to deal powerfully with challenging situations. 

Even parts educational and experiential, you’ll learn the basic processes of ACT and then receive coaching and training in applying these to your supervision.  The results will be an expanded capacity for training and developing your supervisees in a way that fosters their continued growth and development as behavioral practitioners. 

In this course, you will deal with your own humanity, what thwarts you in your commitments, and develop practices for reframing situations you find challenging so that you can: 

  • Use performance management conversations as opportunities for growth – both for you and the people you supervise.

  • Communicate in ways that inspires your supervisees, emphasizing the positive reinforcers of their work and the difference you and they are out to make.

  • Be the supervisor you want to be.  Not the one you feel stuck being. 

Scott Herbst, PhD, BCBA got his doctorate at the University of Nevada, Reno where he studied Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), Relational Frame Theory (RFT), and Acceptance and Commitment Training.  His ACT training beyond the classroom includes experiential workshops with Steven Hayes, PhD, and Kelly Wilson, PhD, two of the authors of the original ACT text.  As a graduate student, he facilitated workshops targeting stigma and is a co-author on numerous ACT publications.  He has since designed and facilitated dozens of experiential ACT workshops that participants reliably report make a profound difference in areas of personal importance including relationships, career, leadership, family, and leisure. 

About the Facilitator


Logistics, Meeting Dates & Times


The course meets online for two hours.  Live attendance is recommended but not required for CE credit. Videos will be made available to all registrants within 24 hours of meeting completion.  

Dates and times of open courses:

June 2022 Series - Wednesdays 8pm EST, 7pm CST, 6pm MST, 5pm PST

June 29

July 13, 20 & 27

August 3, 10, 17 & 24

August 2022 Series - Mondays 12pm EST, 11am CST, 10am MST, 9am PST

August 15, 22 & 29

September 12, 19 & 26

October 10 & 17



          Session 1 – Course Orientation and Overview

In this session learners orient to the course.  We identify practices for getting the most out of training and cover scope-of-practice issues.  Following this, we dive right into ACT processes, with emphasis on personal values and those areas where we find ourselves most challenged in living by them. 



  1. Participants will be able to explain how mindfulness and willingness relate to the behavioral principle of negative reinforcement.

  2. Participants will be able to explain how values relates to the behavioral principle of positive reinforcement.

  3. Participants will be able to provide an example of one ethical and one unethical application of course content. 


Session 2 – The Performance Matrix

Here we begin to work with “The Matrix,” a powerful tool for identifying what matters, the actions that will fulfill that, and the circumstances (including our own thoughts and feelings) that move us away from valued action and rob us of power and aliveness.  We explore the connection to positive and negative reinforcers in the workplace and the ACT processes that will help move us toward what matters. 


  1. Participants provide one example of a value and identify a behavior it may influence. 

  2. Participants will identify at least two competing-contingencies found in their work environments.


Session 3 – Rules and Where They Fail

Here we deepen our work with the Matrix by and investigate the degree to which what we say about the world – our verbal behavior – influences our actions towards and experience of our clients, supervisees, superiors, and selves.  We focus on identifying ineffective rules, discovering how they impact our performance, and begin the practices of acting more flexibly towards what matters. 



  1. Participants will be able to identify one instance of rule-governed behavior and describe, in behavioral terms, how it influences probability of responding. 

  2. Participants will provide one example of a self-generated rule and describe how it influences avoidance responding as it relates to supervision. 


Session 4 – Our Own Worst Enemy

In this session, we explore the fundamental nature of self.  Continuing our work with the Matrix, we distinguish our “self-concept” – the person we consider ourselves to be and uncover how that limits our freedom as supervisors and leaders.  We introduce a powerful tool for identifying the self-concept as a concept and practices for moving beyond it in service of a bigger purpose. 



  1. Participants will explain self-as-content in behavioral terms. 

  2. Participants will state relationships between their own self-concept behavior and their overt behavior, including situations they move toward and away from. 


Session 5 – Turning Outward

Having dealt sufficiently with what stops us as supervisors, we now turn toward implementing practices to empower others.  Participants articulate a vision and mission for their supervision relationships.  Additionally, we begin work on the most fundamental skill for effective coaching: listening mindfully. 


  1. Participants will identify parts of a mission and relate them to the process of selection, including stakeholders and key results. 

  2. Participants will provide an example of how their own covert verbal behavior influences their responses to communication. 


Session 6 – Being an Environment for Employee Growth

Empowering others is learned behavior.  It involves practicing the skills where people deal authentically with their own barriers to performance.  Where that starts is in listening and evoking behavior where people grow.  In this session, we deepen the practice of listening and participants learn to use their environment to shape this critical skill. 


  1. Participants will identify three elements of a speaker’s response they can tact during conversation to indicate listening. 

  2. Participants will identify four appropriate responses to speaker behavior to move a coaching conversation forward. 

Session 7 – The Hard Part of Leadership 

The hardest part of supervising is providing meaningful feedback that makes a difference when improvement is necessary.  In this session, we identify the structure for having performance management conversations that motivate improvement and leave supervisees heard, respected, and interested in closing the gap in performance. 



  1. Participants will identify three behaviors to demonstrate during an effective performance-management conversation. 

  2. Participants will identify three behavioral outcomes of an effective coaching conversation. 


Session 8 – Moving Forward 

Nothing in this course is a magic pill that will make you a great supervisor.  What you learned were behaviors.  With practice, you will get better.  However, what will make practice take hold is an environment that supports you.  In this final session, we turn our eye toward creating an environment that supports ongoing growth and development. 


  1. Participants will identify three barriers to ongoing implementation of learned practices. 

  2. Participants will draft a plan for dealing with barriers and schedule occasions for self-assessment of implementation.