Preparing for a Lifelong Career in Behavioral Health

Discover the many paths to a thriving career serving others
Catalight Marketing and Communications
August 29, 2023

If you’re interested in making a significant impact on the wellbeing of others, a career focused on supporting people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or intellectual developmental disabilities (IDDs) may be the perfect fit for you.

While certain skills and experiences are needed to work with this diverse group of individuals, there are many paths to a thriving career in behavioral health. In fact, serving people with ASD or IDD requires a multi-disciplinary team of people with different backgrounds, interests and expertise.

Choosing a Degree that Aligns with Your Goals

To prepare for your future as a behavioral health professional, you will typically need to complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree. You may even want to pursue a doctoral degree – depending on your area of interest. Having a background in special education, psychology, social work, marriage and family therapy, speech-language therapy or occupational therapy can provide a solid foundation where you learn techniques and strategies to best support individuals with ASD and IDD.

At Catalight, our Clinical team holds a variety of academic degrees. For example, Director, Clinical Strategy & Access Management, Tasnim Diaf Moulton, has a bachelor’s in sociology and a master’s in social work. Whereas Catalight’s Vice President, Remote Care and Program Design, Brianna Fitchett, has a master’s degree in special education, is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) and is working on a masters of public health and healthcare administration degree. Even though their educational backgrounds are different, they both have the same passion for helping others. Another thing they have in common is their dedication to learning.

After earning your degree, you can continue to acquire new skills and knowledge by taking professional development and training courses. Similarly, you can earn industry certifications like the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®). And depending on where you live, you may need to get a state license to practice.

Getting Real-World Experience

In addition to having the right credentials, it’s important to be comfortable working with people with ASD and IDD. One way to get practical, hands-on experience is by completing an internship or fieldwork during college.

After earning her degree, Tasnim gained valuable experience by supporting foster youth with disabilities. She then went on to help college students with ASD and IDD develop independent living and social skills. It was during this time that she fell in love with her work and the population she was serving.

All of Tasnim’s experiences working with people with ASD and IDDs, led her to the role that she now has at Catalight where she recently launched a clinical case management program. And one of the reasons why she continues to enjoy working within this field is because she can actually see the progress her clients make.

Finding the Right Job

If you are clinically innovative, willing to challenge the status quo and have a passion to support people, there are many opportunities to work as a behavioral health professional. You can find roles in clinics, schools, community organizations and more. The other good news is that demand for this type of work has expanded greatly over the past decade and is expected to continue to grow. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we should see a 22% increase in the number of substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselor positions between 2021-2031.[1]

If you would like to support people with ASD and IDD to choose their own path to thrive, check out the open positions at Catalight today.



[1]U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Outlook

About Catalight

Catalight breaks down barriers and biases to create a more equitable world so people with developmental disabilities can choose their path. Catalight provides access to innovative, individualized care services, clinical research and advocacy — all powered by intelligent Xolv Technology Solutions. Through the work of affiliate partners, Easterseals Hawaii and Easterseals Northern California, Catalight and its family of companies support people with developmental disabilities and their families to support them across their care journey.

The Catalight family of companies is one of the largest behavioral health networks in the nation with more than 8,000 practitioners serving 14,000 clients and families every day. Backed by more than a decade of experience and a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, we are reimagining the way people with developmental disabilities and their families experience healthcare. Catalight’s goal is to ensure that individuals and families receive timely access to evidence-based treatment, including naturalistic developmental and language-based services, applied behavior analysis, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

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