By Liz Corbel, a member of the SkillCorps Kenya August 2016 team

When a behaviour seems too complex…
A target skill too far out of reach…
When there are too many variables to account for…
There are too many changes that could be made…
And two weeks is all you have…

As clinicians, passionate about our field; it’s easy to approach a novel situation and be susceptible to differences. It’s hard not to start accumulating thoughts of all the things that could be changed or introduced. It’s challenging not to imprint our points of view and methodology. Sometimes the real challenge is to highlight the star moments, the moments that are done differently and greatly! The times where despite no programs or plans, learning and teaching occurs, the moments you want to transfer home.

The beauty of Skillcorps is that it provides you with the opportunity to embrace your skill set and experiences and challenges you to be creative and flexible with it; in a way that’s socially significant to our partners. It encourages collaboration and drawing from each other’s strengths, whilst being mindful of our differences. But where the magic really happens with Skillcorps is the combination of the shared understanding of the science and the passion to make a difference in a child’s life. This is when incredible things happen!  

One thing that has struck me during my time with the Skillcorps team and the staff at Kaizora, is the impact of not only having an understanding of the behavioural principles that guide our work, but the ability to conceptualise them as well. Resources, money and teaching materials are great; but having fluency in the basic concepts of applied behavioural analysis and applying them is not only profoundly more effective, it’s more sustainable. 

Sometimes going back to what we know, can take us a long way!

Thinking functionally is what stands us apart from other approaches. Always asking, why? What’s the function of this behaviour? What’s the function of this skill? 

So much comes down to motivation! What is valuable right now, for this child, for this staff member, for this team? How can we change the value to increase/decrease behaviours? What are they deprived or satiated of?

What’s reinforcing this behaviour? How can we arrange the reinforcement to change behaviour? How can we adhere to preferences to increase appropriate behaviour?

We have achieved so much during our time at Kaizora, and really highlighted the importance of knowing the individual and sticking to the basic principles of motivation operations and reinforcement as antecedent interventions. 

We may not get to implement every intervention or recommend every change – but that’s okay. Someone once said to me ‘What’s the smallest amount of change you can make to get effective behaviour change’. These words have really stuck with me and guided how I approach my clinical work.Sometimes it doesn’t take a complicated multi-component intervention, sometimes changing one variable is enough. It’s easier to add other components later than to fade them away.  If our goal is sustainability, then maybe small changes over time is the key to success. 


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