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Behavioral Health Professional: A Job Analysis, Creation & Maintenance

Updated on May 16, 2013

In an ever expanding field of study it is imperative for an Industrial and Organizational (I/O) psychologist to be current in methods and techniques for analyzing, creating and implementing various job positions. The process of this can be quite complex involving various job analysis techniques such as observation, archival data, participation, interviews, surveys and job diaries (Riggio E. R., 2008).For the purposes of evaluating this process a current job posting by SequelCare LLC., seeking a Behavioral Health Professional posted on will be used. The job posting is as follows;

Behavioral Health Professional HCT

Job Description

“SequelCare of Maine offers rewarding opportunities for individuals to work as a Behavioral Health Professional in our HCT (Home and Community Based Therapy) Program. The BHP works alongside a Licensed Clinician as part of a team to provide in- home support to a child who has a mental health diagnosis. As a BHP, you are responsible for implementing the treatment goals and working with the child’s family to help manage behaviors, help create a safe environment for the family and child, and to assist in making changes in the natural environment so the child and family can be successful day to day.

Position Duties & Responsibilities:

*Provide direct care behavioral health services as outlined in the Individual Treatment Plan (ITP) focused primarily on:

a. Enhancing behavioral management

b. Increasing skill development

c. Understanding the client's behaviors and developmental level

d. Teaching the client and family how to respond appropriately to treatment needs

e. Improving effective communication amongst the family

f. Developing plans and strategies to improve future functioning

*Observes and reports significant changes in the condition and needs of the client and family to the immediate supervisor.

*Maintains and submits documents as required by the agency policy and regulatory requirements.”

*Provides crisis support to the family and client.

*Maintains confidentiality in accordance with agency policy and regulatory requirements.

Job Requirements

*There is a critical need in the State Of Maine for qualified individuals to work with children and their families. Employees must be available to work after school, evenings and weekends. BHP needs to have reliable transportation and a valid driver’s license and insurance.

Education Requirements

*Employees must have a Bachelor’s Degree in social work, child development, psychology, sociology, etc. (relevant behavioral health related field) and relevant life experience. Current BHP Certificate is a plus.

To begin with an I/O psychologist (I/OP) must develop an intimate understanding of the position and its requirements for an incumbent to be successful. There are many methods available for this analysis yet for this specific position the utilization of archival data, job element analysis and a position analysis questionnaire. The use of these methods will help determine the personal characteristics, skills and abilities necessary to perform the various duties and responsibilities presented in the previous job description.

The use of archival data will grant the I/O psychologist access to previous job analysis results that can help create a foundation from which to establish the positions current needs. The use of the job element method in which an I/OP establishes the “basic knowledge, skills, abilities, or other characteristics” (KSAO’s) required by the potential incumbent to be effective in the position (Riggio E. R, 2008). The use of this method in particular, although limiting, can help an I/OP determine the personal characteristics required for the job in question. In addition to this an I/OP can perform a position analysis by way of questionnaire. This will give an I/OP valuable information in much more4 detail about the aspects of performing the job previously described. This type of analysis gives details on the various materials needed and duties/responsibilities required with regards to their importance to the position. These methods are beneficial to an employer in that they reduce the prevalence for hiring candidates that may be unsuccessful. In addition to this these methods also help the potential employee in that they help avoid presenting unrealistic opportunities and inevitable dissolving of the employer/employee relationship.

Because this position requires to interact with others regularly in an psychologically intimate manner it is possible that an interviewer may make a subjective hiring decision based on impressions and similarities between the interviewer and/or the current or past incumbent. This could range in factors inclusive of age, sex, race, personality, and/or similarities in perspectives. In short a subjective hiring decision would arise when the interviewer allowed their personal assessment of the candidate to more influential to the hiring decision than the data presented by the screening process. This is particularly important to recognize as the subjective data is only a mediator for the objective data presented by the screening methods (Wade, K. J., & Kinicki, A. J., 1995). Although there are many avenues for subjective hiring to take place throughout the employee selection process, avoidance of this can be facilitated by taking the appropriate time and following established protocol in the process the interviewer can evaluate both the objective data and the subjective data synergistically. Although the multiple hurdle method of employee selection has been shown to be popular it runs the risk of facilitating a subjective hiring decision due to the high level of personality criteria required of the applicants. Due to this factor a multiple cut-off model would better serve the I/OP in that it creates various cut-offs for the applicant various scores based on data retrieved from a the previously listed methods of job analysis and their respective value rating (Riggio E. R., 2008).

However, before either forms of data can be collected the validity and reliability of the employee selection methods must be established. There are two methods for an I/OP to establish this. First there is predictive validity in which test scores are compared for correlation with subsequent performance evaluation. This allows an I/OP to see if the test scores of the employee correlate with their performance scores, thus establishing validity to the measurement instruments being used. In addition to this the use of concurrent validity in which an I/OP tests current employees in the position to establish the scores required of potential incumbents for the position. By this method an I/OP is able to establish correlation between the measurement instruments results and the current employee’s test scores, thus again establishing validity of the measurement instruments being utilized (Riggio E. R., 2008).

One the job description and specifications, battery of tests and their validity and reliability have been established an I/OP must construct an effective interviewing method for this position as well. The three major functions of the interview is to attain information about the applicant that is otherwise unattainable without a face-to-face interaction. Examples of this include communication skills, physical presentation and social comfort level. In particular to the previously described position these qualities are an important variable to be measured. Secondly the interview process is an opportunity for the interviewer to present the job in a more comprehensive fashion allowing for the interviewee to ask questions and determine if the job is a good fit for them. Lastly the interview presents an opportunity for a company to interact with the public and affect their general perspective of the company (Riggio E. R., 2008). Establishing the structure of the interview around the first purpose listed will help maintain objectivity in that the approach is analytical in nature and creates a guided and purposeful data representation of elusive details that are of importance to the success of the incumbent that can be measured and correlated with the other test results.

The effective use of the above selection methods when established as reliable, valid and objective can help a company find and acquire the most viable candidates for the job in question. In addition to this the process by which an I/OP screens, selects and places employees can be considered an investment to the company as their future success is dependent on its constituents (Jund-Ming, W., & Brian H, K.2004). One of the most beneficial aspects of this process is that it can save the company time and money spent screening, hiring, training and/or replacing future employees by reducing their turn-over rate. In addition to this potential employees benefit not only in that they are being effectively matched with a job they have the potential to be successful at they are also afforded the information necessary for them to determine if they will be satisfied in their position. By ensuring this important factor it increases the prevalence for longevity of employment for the incumbent. In particular to the above position the importance of establishing positive personality scores is essential to avoid the incumbent experiencing burn-out in which the employee become over-burdened an unable to effectively manage themselves or their workload (Bakker, A. B., Karen I Van, D. Z., Lewig, K. A., & Dollard, M. F. 2006).

After the successful hiring of an individual for the position an I/OP would then need to establish methods of effectively evaluating the incumbent performance and establishing effective training programs to help facilitate their continued success. Training programs in particular provide a medium by which an employee can feel an increased sense of value and accomplishment in their position which is essential to the employee’s level of job satisfaction and subsequent performance. To do this it would be recommended that the I/OP utilize a 360° feedback model that acquires data from all available sources such as supervisors, peers, subordinates and patients as well. Utilization of this method of performance evaluation helps present a more comprehensive and accurate representation of the employee’s success (Riggio E. R., 2008). This data would be measured using a graphic rating scale representative of the various factors of import relevant to job performance falling to categories inclusive of various rating scales represented by specific situational outcomes and performance values. This will allow for a more detailed representation of the interpersonal effectiveness as well as the occupational effectiveness of the incumbent for this position.

From this data an I/OP can then determine in which areas the incumbent would benefit from training. This can be done on an individual basis or a group basis just as the employee evaluation can. This will give an I/OP detailed information that can be used to create viable and effective training programs for the employee/employee’s. Integral to the effectiveness of the training program is the ability for the program to be transfer to the work environment. Training in any form, if not transferable, become arbitrary and costly. Second is ensuring the positive perception towards training for the employee. Research has shown that the employee’s attitude with regards to training and their personal willingness/readiness to participate directly affect the success of the program for the employee (Riggio E. R., 2008). Lastly but likely most importantly the training program must be structured. With regard to the previously described job position of Behavior Health Professional training would need to be on-going as the research and development of this field of study is ever evolving. Training methods for this position would be inclusive of lectures, interpersonal interactions such as role playing, written material and testing both written and oral to assess absorption of training materials, utilizing both on-site and off-site testing.

As with the previously discussed methods of employee selection and their validity it is also important to establish the same validity and consistency with regards to traing programs. To do this an I/OP must maintain focus on several variables integral to creating an effective training program. These methods are inclusive of establishing the needs of the training program, creating training objectives and implementation of the training program so that the success of the program can be evaluated. In addition to these steps an I/OP must pay close attention as well to the validity and reliability of the training methods and materials being utilized. An I/OP must also test these materials and methods for validity. This is commonly done using a pre-test and post-test design. This allows the researcher to measure any improvements presented after training and subsequently establish the efficiency and applicability of the training methods (Riggio E. R., 2008).

There are two forums for which training is provided to employees; on-site and off-site. Generally on-site training is used for labor or skilled occupations such as cooking, carpentry etc. This is done in several ways. Most common is on the job training. This is when the employee with no experience is paired with a current incumbent with enough experience to train the worker. This can be very effective, however, it may contribute to problems with social learning and subsequent behavior. In short, it can lead to the new employee adopting the behaviors and practices of the employee training them which may not be consistent with regulation. Off-site training is usually used for occupations with less hands-on work required such as teacher, psychologists etc. This venue generally consists of seminars inclusive of live speakers, video instruction and audio-video interactive seminars often called webinars (Riggio E. R., 2008)

For the position being discussed off-site training will probably be the most successful as seminars can provide different venues for not only informational learning but behavioral as well through the use of behavioral modeling, simulation and programed instruction methods. These methods are designed to help present real life situations in which the employee may practice how they would handle various work related situation and ways in which they could handle them more proactively.

However, regardless of the training methods utilized they are all dependent on the employee’s motivation. Two specific theories of motivation that apply to this position are that of extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation and the job characteristics model. Due to the nature of the job being one of social service it is imperative that the employee be capable of receiving intrinsic rewards in the form of feeling in control of their work and environment, that they are effective and the ability to see the fruits of their labor. For example: a psychologist working as a behavioral health professional may find intrinsic rewards in helping others and seeing their efforts come to fruition. In addition to this the job characteristic model evaluates an employee’s satisfaction and subsequent motivation by the standard workers perceiving their job as meaningful, associate a sense of responsibility with the job, and have some knowledge of the results of their efforts” (Riggio E. R., 2008). In consideration of this it would behoove the employer to allow the clinician a level of autonomy in their work, provide ongoing training to promote the success of the incumbent and ensure the ability of the clinician to witness the results of their work such as the reunification of estranged conflicting family members or the successful behavioral rehabilitation of a child. This will provide validation of their importance to their work and let them experience intrinsic rewards as they witness their help affecting and influencing others.

As this is such a complex occupation with regards to effectively building relationships and maintaining them with such a variety of individuals the greatest obstacle presented to an I/OP in creating this position is the effective screening and hiring of an employee with the right set of technical, cognitive, emotional and social skills necessary to be successful. It is particularly important that the incumbent is well screened for this position because they are dealing directly and intimately with others and can have a profound effect on their psychosocial perceptions and behaviors. For example; if an individual is hired for this position based on academic credentials yet the person in their past has committed domestic violence this individual may subsequently treat women receiving their counsel with bias. I addition to this the difficulty of accurate self-representation may be presented in that people tend to describe how they would like to be rather than how they actually are. This one drawback of personality tests in that the data presented is not verifiable. This is where observational evaluation in a situational context can help validate the individual’s personality matrix.

The base job of an I/OP is to meet the needs of the employer and the employee. The greatest challenge for this position would be the extensive time and financial investment necessary to perform adequate test batteries to ensure the hiring of a successful candidate. In addition to this the resources required to provide effective ongoing training for the employee can be quite cumbersome as well. The greatest difficulty for the employee seeking this position disregarding the time they would need to invest to undergo these tests would be that of an uncertain working environment and inconsistency in their work loads. Mental health workers are generally under a case load that they cannot handle alone. This creates a lot of tension and stress for the incumbent and having the right management tools for this factor can mean the difference between long term employees and a high turnover rate. This is especially important in the field of mental health services because therapeutic change is based largely on the relationship the clinician establishes with the client. A high turnover rate could very well translate to the clients having limited rapport and subsequent trust in their clinicians which will undoubtedly lead to reduced effectiveness of the therapy being administered. It could be derived from this that an I/Op not only holds the employer and employee’s interests at heart but also the individual/individuals receiving their services.


Bakker, A. B., Karen I Van, D. Z., Lewig, K. A., & Dollard, M. F. (2006). The relationship between the big five personality factors and burnout: A study among volunteer counselors. The Journal of Social Psychology, 146(1), 31-50. Retrieved from

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Jund-Ming, W., & Brian H, K. (2004). Effective employment screening practices. Management Research News, 27(4/5), 99-107.

Riggio E. R., (2008). Job Analysis, Chapter 3, Introduction to Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Pearson Education Inc. pp. 61-64.

Riggio E. R., (2008). Employee Selection, Chapter 4, Introduction to Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Pearson Education Inc. pp. 91, 110 &116.

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