Here at MSP, we’re proud to offer a combined degree program in which students can receive a Master of Arts in clinical psychology with a concentration in applied behavior analysis (ABA). Students of this program go on to pursue careers in a wide variety of fields. Nadine Ali, a 2022 graduate of the program, blends her knowledge of ABA and clinical psychology in her role as a behavior therapist & ABA training coordinator.
Name: Nadine Ali, MA, TLLP
MSP Program: MA with ABA concentration
Occupation: Clinical Behavior Therapist & ABA Training Coordinator at the Living and Learning Enrichment Center
What led you to study psychology and Applied Behavior Analysis?
I have been interested in the field of psychology since high school. While in undergraduate school, I started working as a behavior technician and fell in love with ABA. Helping clients with autism reach their goals and gain new skills instilled a need to study ABA at a more advanced level, which led me to the Michigan School of Psychology.
What type of setting do you work in right now?
I work in a home-like center in the heart of downtown Northville! As a clinical therapist, I provide direct 1:1 services in an ABA and psychotherapy setting with support from my clinical supervisors. I primarily work with teens and adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and other comorbid diagnoses. Additionally, I offer psychotherapy services for other mental health needs besides autism in a naturalistic setting.
What led you to this career path?
During my practicum at the Living and Learning Enrichment Center, I realized how important it is to continue to provide services to adults with autism. Many individuals with autism lose services in their late teenage/early adult years due to a lack of resources and insurance coverage. Due to my background in clinical psychology and applied behavior analysis, I can provide psychotherapy using ABA principles to individuals who need more support, but do not qualify for ABA services. Thus, providing services to a population lacking additional resources as they age.
What have you found are the benefits of having a background in both ABA and clinical psychology as opposed to just one of the two areas?
With a background in both clinical psychology and ABA, I can apply principles from both areas to direct sessions. ABA encompasses evidenced-based interventions which can be implemented with adults with autism in psychotherapy sessions. Utilizing a blend of clinical psychology and ABA, I can provide a unique approach to therapy to aid in the development of life, social and communication skills.
ABA influences my work in psychotherapy by utilizing data collection to monitor progress, connecting thoughts & feelings with actions and consequences, and using shaping techniques to enhance the development of life and vocational skills.
What advice would you give someone considering applying to the MA/ABA or ABA certificate programs?
Do it!! The faculty and staff have been amazing resources in preparing to enter the field as a therapist! Not only can you explore the field of clinical psychology, but you can also obtain a certificate in ABA. It is a unique combination that benefits individuals in many clinical settings!