Thought Leaders 006 | Dr. Henry Roane, Part 2

This month on Operant Innovations - Thought Leaders, we are back speaking with Dr. Henry Roane about where he sees the field of behavior analysis going and where he would like to see the field go.

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Dr. Henry Roane (00:01):

You're listening to operant innovations, a podcast brought to you by ABA technologies. This month on thought leaders, we continue our talk with Dr. Henry Roane about where he sees the field of behavior analysis going and where he'd like to see the field go. And so that kind of brings me to my next question that I've been asking is where do you see the field going, or where would you like to see the field going, and whether or not you want to answer one or both of those is up to you.

Dr. Henry Roane (00:36):

I feel like my view of where the field is going is probably pessimistic. So I hold that one. I would love for the field to solve racism, gun control, and global warming. If, if, and it seems like all of those things should be controllable. Um, and, um, you know, I just like the contrast of being in Sweden versus being in the US and seeing what they're doing to, um, you know, if environmentalism is something that behavior analysts ought to be able to make a bigger impact in, and you seem to say, you know, if you look back at JABAs roots, there's a lot of stuff on recycling. Um, and, um, a and, you know, related problems. And, um, I'd love to see something like that. The gun stuff might be a little bit harder to deal with, but I think that looking, I think it would be so cool for people to do those kinds of major, um, you know, just major societal issues and trying to have an impact would be amazing.

Dr. Henry Roane (01:45):

And, you know, I think I was trying to promote that some in the past the organization and, um, that would be, um, great. And, um, it's hard because we're all busy, whether we being behavioral analysts, but whether we're students, so we've got comps to complete and date, you know, data sets to review, or whether we're working on your tenure, you know, trying to get a grant application in. And so it's, it's really hard to do that kind of stuff, but, um, that would be kind of my, my goal. I think a more reasonable goal is dissemination to other, um, other specialists. Um, I think that's a really, really important thing. And, you know, we've, we fought so hard, I think for licensure laws in different States. I mean, I haven't, but other people have, and, um, and these insurance bills and, um, those are, those are great, but like, you want, you want people to think, um, you know, you want a doctor to say, Oh, I'm going to refer you to a behavior analyst. It's just like, they refer somebody to a social worker and that, that would be a, that's a really small step. And obviously that's built up every time. Um, you know, for me, my, my pessimistic views, um, I guess kind of related to that, I mean, I worry sometimes that, uh, yeah, I don't know if they do this in Florida. Have you ever seen those people in the mall and they like do that weird thing with threading people's eyebrows, do they do that down there?

Dr. Henry Roane (03:17):

They do that in Michigan. I know that for a fact.

Dr. Henry Roane (03:20):

So, so like, we've got a mall here and all these, you know, malls are dying and there's like 10 of these places that do this eyebrow thing. I think this is none of those have a sustainable model right now. Right. Um, but I worry a little bit about behavior analyst becoming that where it's like every strip mall is going to have, like, you know, Joe's house of behavior analysis. And, um, that worries me a little bit is, um, you know, are we, um, are we, you know, flooding the field so to speak and there's a lot, you know, I mean, most of that work is involving developmental disabilities and God knows those people need a lot of help. And so, um, but I think it always worries me that are we, is it kind of, um, oh, you know, are we out stripping kind of the resources and, and, and are we moving so fast that we're moving away from our scientific roots and to more of a clinical roots and, um, you know, are we getting away from really looking at, um, you know, the individualized form of treatments and, and function for the fact of seeing more patients and more hours in the chair?

Dr. Henry Roane (04:39):

Are we, are we moving away from thoroughness in favor of brevity and, um, should we be doing those things? And I think things like that, um, bother me, but, uh, you know, I'm realistic of the fact that, um, we all are working in financial, um, based models and our that's the way our healthcare system works. And so, um, there's incentive for, for doing all those things. And so, um, and so I think that just sort of it's imperative, I think for, for behavior analysts to sort of keep their eyes on the origin of the field, um, you know, not to, not to an extreme to where you have to do a reversal with every patient, um, every kid, but, um, being true to that I think is really important. And recognizing the, the link to the under the, um, underlying mechanisms.

Dr. Henry Roane (05:34):

I think that even your, as you like to call it your pessimistic view, I mean, I think a lot of people actually agree with you on this, just from an anecdotal anecdotal evidence here. Um, but I mean, just this year at FABA James Carr brought up a graph of out of a hundred percent. It was, it was pie chart out of a hundred percent of the behavior of the BCBAs, the ones who are certified 50% have been certified within the last, like four years, a little like within, cause I've been certified now it's shorter than I've been certified. And I got certified in 2015. So it was, it was after me in the last three years. Cause I think it was 2016 to 2019 that 50% of BCBAs have been certified in 2016 to 2019. And so this kind of brings up, you know, that quantity versus quality question and that practitioner role versus like a social justice role, like you had brought up or, you know, even precision teaching or sustainability. Um, even, I mean, Tim Shahan does great work in his, in all of his work too, you know, all of his translational research that he does. And there's, I mean, that's even, doesn't seem like it's, you know, like a lot of people don't even quite understand how his work is so important with the translational stuff between the EAB and the clinical. And so I completely understand where you're coming from, but then it makes me wonder, like, how do you think we can start promoting,

Dr. Henry Roane (07:24):

Uh, you know, it's tough because like that graph, first of all, I think it's great that, that somebody in our fields finally using pie charts, I love a good pie chart.

Dr. Henry Roane (07:32):

I think it was don't quote me on that.

Dr. Henry Roane (07:37):

Good for him. Um, I, you know, like the ensured that this wasn't, um, you know, implied that the 50% are, are bad behavior analysts. I mean, I doubt that's true. Uh, you know, you gotta pass the certification exam and so you, you gotta have some base knowledge and, um, right. And I mean, they, they bust their butts on the content of that exam. So I'm not dogging on them. I think it's just like that notion of like where, you know, even in our own program, we created a master's program about a year ago and we kept enrollment and, you know, five or seven students, um, and that was done 'cause, you know, you gotta have enough, if everybody's gonna do a thesis, you got to have enough potential data to go around. And, um, but you know, I like all of them, I like all the students and, and I think man, we're going to graduate our first cohort in the, um, this summer of 2020.

Dr. Henry Roane (08:38):

And I have like, feel really bad that I can't give them all jobs. You know, I mean, unless, they're going to listen to this and then I'm totally gonna try to get them jobs. But, um, but you know, you just can't and like, I don't know, um, you know, that, I don't know kind of, um, what that means for the future of the field, but I think there's, I guess in my pessimism, I have hope because there's so many people who need help and there are so many people who, there are so many areas where we are, we haven't really tried to tackle. Right. You know, it wasn't like think if we, if we tried to tackle some environmental problem with the Gusto, we tackled autism, you know, and if there was an, if you could build insurance for, for tackling environment. And so putting aside the finances, um, but you know, if you could do that, that, that would really, um, open up a lot of areas and there'd be a lot of people to throw at those problems.

Dr. Henry Roane (09:42):

Um, and so I guess, even though it was pessimistic, I think that there's, um, you know, you're, you're building a nationally known sub-specialty or I guess specialty, not subspecialty, but you're building this specialty that, you know, people barely heard of, you know, 10 or 20 years ago. And, you know, you're going to get it to the point where, you know, like we went through customs coming back from Sweden, the guy, so what are you doing? My wife said, I'm a behavior analyst. And I, you know, you're thinking like, Oh man, we're going to get the tape. Cause nobody knows what that is. You know? So I said, Oh, I'm a, I'm a licensed psychologist. They just look at you like, I'm one of those guys and your, your through. Behavior analyst, what does that even mean, right? But you're gonna get to the point where, you know, she was telling a social worker, people have a frame of reference for what a social worker does and you're gonna get to that point.

Dr. Henry Roane (10:33):

I think that's really, really cool. I mean, that's a major lift in like, you know, Jerry shook and colleagues started that stuff decades ago. And like, to be able to think that like, you know, Jerry in particular, like had the, the awareness to sort of see that and lay out a strategic plan and a vision for getting there. And then Jim feeling the responsibility for picking it up and running with it is freaking amazing man. And, um, because that is a major, major lift. Um, and it's it's for the best, but you know, you do worry that like, or, you know, or, or, you know, it doesn't take, you know, kind of adage of one bad egg. And I mean, that's, you're going to have that at some point. And whether, you know, that's just the nature of the game.

Dr. Henry Roane (11:26):

I mean, yeah. That's with everything though, too. I mean, I don't know if you've heard of the doctor death podcast very good by the way.

Dr. Henry Roane (11:34):

No, but I just had a flashback to like 1980s professional wrestling. So probably not the same doctor death.

Dr. Henry Roane (11:45):

Don't think it is, um, no, it's not, it's actually a much more recent, like within the last 10 ish years. Um, it's a really great podcast, but, um, it's the same thing. Like he was a surgeon and one bad egg and, you know, I mean, I mean, people do it to doctors all the time as well. You know, like medical practitioners that are like, no, I, while I web MD'd it. So I know.

Dr. Henry Roane (12:10):

I have really awful ratings on health grades. Um, but yeah, it's an N of three, are you looking at it right now? I'm gonna look it up. Right. But I mean, it's like as seriously, like, you know, that's the, that's the world that we live in now, um, where, you know, nobody, you know, Yelp for doctors is not going to be good for doctors, right. Who's going to respond to that. And so like our hospital pays this company named press Ganey, millions of dollars to do patient satisfaction surveys. And so every Monday I get patient satisfaction survey results. And, um, and you know, what do you think I mostly get it's, it's the negative stuff about how long have you been sitting in the weight room? You know, the nurse was unfriendly to me and I never get, you know, that my pediatrician's a lovely human being and took a bunch of time and, um, really listen to my kids' problems. I may get that sometimes about other people, but, um, but I mean, the stuff about, you know, the water fountain was broken. It's just like, jeez man, you can't win. And so, um, you know, that's just human nature, I guess. But I think when you throw more, more people working with vulnerable populations, the risk starts to rise, um, you know, probably exponentially at that point. So that gets a little freaky for me.

Dr. Henry Roane (13:42):

Yeah. And it does, and it will, it will continue to do that, but like you said, it's really cool that in this field, we are getting to a point where we are being recognized in that field, but then at the same time, it's like, okay, now let's all get together as one big field of behavior analysts and figure out which topic we're going to take on next guys, because we all got to do this. If we're going to do it, it's like, we know we can, it's just figuring out the need and how we're going to ump into it .

Dr. Henry Roane (14:17):

Or we can just all bike to work and buy electric cars. That would probably just be real helpful too.

Shauna Costello (14:21):

Are there are enough of us yet? I don't know if there's enough of us yet. We're getting there, we're getting there. But I think between the certified and the non-certified there, I mean, it might be pretty good.

Dr. Henry Roane (14:34):

Yeah. Might as well.

Shauna Costello (14:35):

Might be good. But, yeah. I know that a lot of people are trying to break more into the business and the OBM field. And I know right now, you know, I'm studying for my project management certification. Yeah. And I have a couple of colleagues did their lean six Sigma. Um, so you know, really trying to hit those somewhat related fields.

Dr. Henry Roane (14:58):

Yeah. I mean, I look at these things, um, you know, I was looking at the, um, workshops for the Babbitt conference, you know, couple of weeks ago. I think a buddy of mine was doing a workshop. And, um, that's always interesting to me cause it'll be like, um, you know, latest ventures in blah, blah, blah. It's like, Oh man. You know, like, um, but every once in a while there'll be one about management, um, financial analysis stuff. It's like, that's that's yeah. I mean, I don't know if the content is any good, but that's, those are good areas for behavior analysts to learn about. I mean, I can't tell you how many times I thought about going back to get an MBA. And, um, I figured, you know, by now I know enough where I can get by, but, um, but you know, that's, I mean, when we just hired new head of our children's hospital, we, we solely recruited, I think, solely recruited people, um, who had MDs and MBAs because the business side of healthcare so big and the risk of, um, running a foul is, is so scary.

Dr. Henry Roane (16:16):

And you know, that, and I think it's, I guess that's actually part of what worries me is the, not necessarily people, you know, you always worry about people harming kids or harming vulnerable populations. But, um, I worry about, you know, like just the people not knowing kind of what the changes are and, and, and, um, billing and stuff. And I mean, I worry about that constantly, but fortunately, I've got a giant hospital behind me that helps me, you know, that catches me before I do anything too stupid. And, um, but I, I teach a course right now for our first year students on, um, record keeping, um, which is as, as exciting as it sounds. And, um, and it, I tell them at the beginning of the semester, it's a course designed to scare them about, you know, HIPAA violations or whatever it is because that's real world stuff. And you do not, you know, you've got behavior analysts that drive in cars from point a to point B with patient data in their car, it takes like one person to break a window, or, you know, you're doing supervision with somebody in a Starbucks, dang, that is probably not HIPAA compliant. Maybe it is, that stuff like that freaks me out. I barely have enough to freak out about, but, um,

Shauna Costello (17:46):

No, you need more. No, I mean, I've had a case manager or something back in the day, she asked me if I wanted to meet at a restaurant to talk about a client. And I was like, no, I don't.

Dr. Henry Roane (17:57):

Have a margarita while you're at it.

Shauna Costello (17:58):

I was like, you can come to my office. Um, but it's yeah, it's, I completely understand. And I actually had reached out just recently on a lot of the ABA Facebook groups, um, just to solicit some info that people wish they would've known, you know, they went into clinical behavior analysis because there's a lot in, so to hear that you guys have a record keeping course because honestly, a lot of people would probably actually now that, okay, hindsight people actually would like that. Maybe not while they're in it, but

Dr. Henry Roane (18:35):

No, I don't think they like it while they're in it.

Shauna Costello (18:39):

Yes, but no, I know that that's something that a lot of people ask for, after the fact.

Dr. Henry Roane (18:45):

But they, they probably ran across people who had run into violations and, um, and said, you know, this is a, um, this is a young field and people need to be educated in this. And, um, and you know, I, um, it was very different being part of, of a academic medical setting, where they have systems in place and electronic medical records and all these other things than it is. Um, but even, even in that kind of controlled setting, it's just amazing how easy it is to slip. Um, you know, and that's, that's something that you just always have to think about.

Shauna Costello (19:25):

Yes. Well, I know that you have class to teach and you need to eat lunch. I know how easily this could very much go for another 30 minutes. Um, but is there anything else that you want to gloat and be cocky about, about yourself or about the field?

Dr. Henry Roane (19:46):

I don't want to be called cocky twice in the same week. Uh, now I am, um, I actually am, uh, humbled and was a little surprised that you asked me to do this to begin with. Cause I always think, um, nobody would want to hear from me about this kind of shit. So, um, so I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

Shauna Costello (20:10):

Why are you apologizing. You're talking to an entire audience of behavior analysts,

Dr. Henry Roane (20:14):

Right. But I just said shit and I felt bad about it.

Shauna Costello (20:16):

Now you just said it again.

Dr. Henry Roane (20:17):

I know it's pretty good. Don't appreciat. I, you know, I just, I, but it's, it's cool. I think it's, I think it's, um, I'm not like pandering to you. I do think it's really cool that you're doing this. Um, I've been involved in some discussions for other other groups thinking about doing podcasts and, um, you know, it's just a great way to reach a wide audience. And, um, I think it's really cool that you chose to do this without having any experience. And they said, yeah, sure do that. And you had to educate yourself, but, um, it was cool. So thanks for, thanks for having me. I hope, uh, I hope you keep this up.

Shauna Costello (20:53):

Thank you for listening to operant innovations. And as always, if you have questions, feedback, or suggestions, please reach out to us at


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