#36 - Dr. Susan Friedman:
Become a Better Animal Trainer

[00:00:00] Susan: Being able to observe carefully, that there are other ways to meet outcomes that include the learner in their own path. I don’t know how you can do that without observing well. And being again, we’re, you know, it is full circle. You and I always end up back in the origins places, because they are the underpinnings. This is the natural science, this is our gravity. Is that your outcomes are better when you are in conversation with the learner, when you are in dialogue, not monologue with the learner.

[00:00:29] Allie: Welcome to Enrichment for the Real World, the podcast devoted to improving the quality of life of pets and their people through enrichment. We are your hosts, Allie Bender…

[00:00:49] Emily:  …and I’m Emily Strong…

[00:00:50] Allie: …and we are here to challenge and expand your view of what enrichment is, what enrichment can be and what enrichment can do for you and the animals in your lives. Let’s get started.

Thank you for joining us for today’s episode of Enrichment for the Real World, and I want to thank you for rating, reviewing, and subscribing wherever you listen to podcasts.

The voice you heard at the beginning of today’s episode was Dr. Susan Friedman. Susan G Friedman PhD is a professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Utah State University. Susan has co-authored chapters on behavior change in five veterinary texts, and their popular articles have been translated into 17 languages.

They teach seminars and courses on animal learning online, How Behavior Works: Living and Learning with Animals, with students from 60 countries so far. Susan also consults with zoos and animal organizations around the world. They were appointed to the F&Ws California Condor Recovery Team from 2002 to 2010, after which time the team was retired, due to the success of the birds in the wild.

They are the chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Committee of American Humane Association, AHA Film and TV Unit, and a member in good standing of ABAI, ABMA, IAATE, and IAABC. See behaviorworks.org and facebook.com/behaviorworks.

For those of you who have had the pleasure of hearing Susan talk before, you know that this is going to be a great episode full of nuggets that you can apply to your animal training, but also just to your life in general.

Susan walks the walk when it comes to implementing what they know about behavior to all facets of life. Plus, Susan has the best, most soothing voice. In this episode, you’re going to hear Emily and Susan talk about, learners are learners are learners, do you actually need to teach that behavior, and unnatural solutions for natural behaviors.

All right. Here it is. Today’s episode, Dr. Susan Friedman, Become a Better Animal Trainer.

[00:03:02] Emily:  Hey, everyone. Emily here. We wanted to provide a content warning for this episode because we do discuss some difficult topics such as ABA practices with human learners and the not so great history of the development of what least intrusive practices have looked like over the past few decades. So, this content warning is to empower you, our audience, with the knowledge you need to make healthy decisions about how and if you should consume this podcast content.

Please see the show notes for more specific timestamps.

All right, so I wanna start by asking you to tell us your name, pronouns, and pets.

[00:03:44] Susan: I am Susan Friedman pronouns, I’m a they/them proponent, although I’m not offended by she and her. And being a Star Trek fan where everybody was called, sir, really my whole life, I thought that made the most sense of all is to just take that out of the discriminations that we’re making.

And pets, I have quite a few. Uh, I have a new puppy Odie who’s a Cav-a-poo from a really lovely breeder and puppy raiser Liz Maslow, some of you may know her. And this little pup is a great example of what it’s like to have as much of the probabilities in your favor as as possible, both genetics and early learning history. My daughter has his brother in New York City, so comparing notes has been really enriching for both of us. And then we have a chocolate lab, uh, named Ray after Ray Coppinger, and a dear friend who’s passed on and was very influential in thinking about dogs in pet dogs in different ways. And, um, he hunts with my husband who’s a Nevada cowboy. So, that’s an interesting aspect to our lives. And, uh, then we have my old dad who passed away in 2015, we have his shih tzu named Athena. And so that’s sort of, um, an emotional lifeline to my father who lived with us for five years. And, uh, is also a very interesting experience to have, not the man, but the dog, and, um, we love them all dearly.

And then for better and worse, I have three parrots, and I say worse because I’ve come to have my consciousness raised about the wisdom of having parrots in a home, flighted animals in a living room, very demanding, and as a result trying to meet their needs, we have a summer aviary, which is mesh here in Utah, and then we have a winter aviary with a heater. So, it’s quite the luxe environments and still very inadequate, um, for their needs. But, um, we have Blizzie who is a cockatoo, and we have Mohali an African Grey, and we have Ricky who’s a Severe macaw and they, are all in various stages of plucking feathers sometimes and just other behaviors. That’s the main one, that keeps me running to figure out how to provide better for them.

And from that 25-year experience, cuz that’s how long we’ve had them, I’m comfortable in sharing the opinion that we shouldn’t be raising baby parrots for the companion pet trade. And if people are interested in having them, there are thousands of parrots who are in rescues and sanctuaries needing good adoptive homes. I work with The Gabriel Foundation, so it’s probably a good time on behalf of parrots to mention that, that the name of that organization.

And let’s see. I think that’s what we have for now. You never know what tomorrow may bring. I have two daughters. I would put them, I would put them in the pet category because in my teaching, I’ve, you know, I started out 20 years with human learners with special learning needs, special relative to the mainstream flat education, we provide. Students who learn, no matter what their teachers know or do versus those that learn only because of their stellar environments and stellar teachers. And, um, I’ve come to connect those dots that children are captive learners as well, right from the beginning. You know, we’re controlling every aspect of their lives. And of course, my work has been connecting the dots from children to non-human learners. And it’s very rare that I don’t see something of relevance from one view to the other in my work. So, I would add two daughters who are in their thirties, and who are magnificent people, big contributors, happy people, so we’re very grateful for that.

[00:07:50] Emily:  Yeah. I think maybe we should reframe the question and say family instead of pets. I agree with you that learners, are learners, are learners, and of course, there are differences across species. But yes, I have, I agree with, with your sentiment there. So, tell us your story and how you got to where you are.

[00:08:08] Susan: You know, I, I keep working on some kind of summary, interesting description, and I haven’t quite landed on that. How do you sum up a, a lifetime, to explain the path you’re on right now. But essentially, I was the, the third kid of three daughters in, the Bronx, and then the suburbs. And as the third child, at least in our family, I was just, I was allowed to grow like a weed.

I was completely uncontained by these parents who by the third child I think were kind of exhausted. And that was very important to my, my tendencies, my personality style was to be uncontained, I think right from the beginning, and then fortunately had parents who were supportive of that in their, in their fatigue, parental fatigue.

Loved animals, like so many of us, I mean, I was, we all have such a similar story around that, I was the kid who was crying over birds that blew out of the nest or bringing home stray kittens who weren’t really stray as it turns out, they just belonged to the neighbor down the street. And, um, and then crying, you know, for hours because I had to give it back, and so that interest was there. You know, who knows where those super early interests come from. Knowing about epi, epigenetics now, you know, it makes you wonder if that isn’t part of learning that’s been so far unaccounted for, rather than any genetic source. But loved animals, but always had a really hard time with authority.

So, once I got into the school system, I was in the principal’s office by kindergarten, which when, you know, given what we know now is just such a stunning failure. That a five-year-old would be tossed out of the out of the room. But I had a wonderful principal, and so of course that behavior that got me thrown out started to strengthen because it was not only escaped from the classroom, but it was positive reinforcement to be with this principal who gave me, kept me busy with the mimeograph machine. You’re probably, your, your listeners are probably too young for the mimeograph machine. I think that part of, of my style of behaving has been important in getting me where I am today. It made me a doubter, and a questioner and, um, comfortable when something doesn’t make sense to push back on it, although I’ve learned to push back politely to keep the conversation going. And then from there, you know, if we just, uh, hop into college. I was a psychology student, and I was very interested, and it was the first schooling that I did that I did well in was when I started learning about behavior. And when we got to the chapter on Skinner, you know, the bells rang, and the light turned on.

It just made so much sense to me. Um, and I was really drawn to it. And now I understand that part of the appeal of this science is that unlike other schools or, sub-departments in psychology, behavior analysis is a natural science. We take a natural science approach. So, we’re looking at the relationships between variables in the environment, and trying to make sense of it from a natural science, scientific method approach. And so, it’s available for everybody who looks to see these connections, like gravity is available to anybody who notices. Things keep going down, not up or sideways. And that just, I don’t know why, really appealed to me.

Um, so my first job was at a residential treatment center, and I worked in the units that, had boys that were labeled emotionally disturbed or behavior disordered. I think those are terms that are still used today. And the head of the school was Wells Hively, who was one of Skinner students at Harvard and his, yeah. And one of his, his, graduate student mate was, um, Ogden Lindsley, who some of you may know from his contribution to precision teaching and to taking data to make decisions. Not always just going with our gut, both of which can be fallible, but combined can be really great, for teachers and learners. So, I started right out of the gate with a really strong influencers and very deep information, and then went to graduate school in special ed and had some great mentors there.

Mainly my focus was research in that degree. And, um, then started teaching about, teaching children labeled learning disabled or behavior disordered in Boulder at the University of Colorado. Came back here after five years in Africa, um, with my husband’s work. He’s a, I say he’s a cowboy from Nevada, meaning really his attention is about grasslands, and moving cattle, which itself has many ethical dilemmas for us to consider. And, um, he, his work brought us to Africa for five years. It was typical story, supposed to be one year, then it was two, and then before you know, it, it was five. Um, with our two daughters who were 11 months old when we first went, and then I came home and had the second, brought the second back at seven days old, and um, left when the oldest was six years old and the youngest was three. That was an interesting transition from Africa to Utah.

And then I started teaching again and after 10 years of teaching, I started to get itchy feet. I felt like keeping the information in the ivory tower was not a passion for me. Generating more ivory tower people was not a passion for me, although it certainly has its place, particularly in research. So, I started to build Behavior Works, although I didn’t know I was building anything. I was just making moves, picking things up as the current in the river brought them to me. I’m much better at watching the current and picking something out than I am generating the current, and so I started writing for parrot magazines, the pop magazines that you find in, uh, PetSmart and Petco and so forth. And, uh, I remember when I, when I wrote about the first ABC to a parrot list, and I said, you know, maybe there’s another reason that the parrot is screaming loud decibels, long duration. Maybe it has to do with the consequences of screaming. And maybe if we look at the antecedent arrangement, we might find ways to enrich that parrot’s behavior in a day. So that screaming for potentially attention is not as reinforcing. And it was a list of over a thousand people and not one person responded. I just, I just tossed that into the wind, and into a parrot Yahoo list, and this was about 1997. And not a word, not a comment back. I’m sure they were thinking, “What the heck is this now, ABC?” you know?

But I kept writing in those magazines and explaining that we’re making, um, a big mistake by always looking inside the organism for explanations of why they do what they do. And that what’s inside in terms of genetics, and brain, and body certainly are pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. But the late breaking sister to the table is what the environment’s doing, and it is after all the environment that influences genes, and brains, and bodies. So, how we could have come up with an entire culture that is completely behavior blind to the influence on all systems of the environment. It, it, it’s astounding we’ve been as successful as we have, cutting out one of the strongest influencers over behavior, the environment, the interaction between the behaver and the environment. So, I, um, it just went from there. It was sort of the right person with information people were interested in at the right time. Slowly but surely, those sands started to shift so that people were more interested in hearing about this, and then other people were doing it too, you know, great things happen all over the world together, there’s never one inventor, right? Edison and Darwin are great, great examples of how there’s never one, you know, the other people are talking about the same stuff and inventing all over the world.

And then here we are. I was fortunate enough to meet you, and to influence you, and for you to influence me, and the other people who are helping you with this podcast. yeah, just kept teaching, and teaching, and teaching. So, high points were meeting Steve Martin from Natural Encounters to be able to learn from him and his birds. And then, uh, Clicker Expo was a high point. Getting to meet Ken Ramirez, and Kathy Sdao, and Michele Pouliot, so they were big influences for me. And, uh, yeah, we’re just this nice big community now.

[00:17:21] Emily:  Yeah, every time I, get discouraged about how much work there still is to do, I remember that you started, you know, the very, very baby beginnings of Behavior Works was 1997, which is the year that I graduated high school. And I’m like, that, that was not that long ago. And look how far we’ve come. So, I need to be more patient with the process because a lot has changed in a relatively short period of time.

[00:17:47] Susan: That’s right. I agree with that. When I think about what’s changed in the last 25 years, and now there’s an an influx of new revisions, as people start to, I don’t know what the metaphor would be, sort of tighten the threads on, um, the least intrusive principle, um, becomes a better guide for what we do, and we are asking questions like, “Gee, do you really need to use extinction to put a behavior on cue?” Or, “Do we really need to have so much presence in animals’ lives or might we turn over more of this to the environment we provide, and less one-to-one where the human is the highest point of every day?” That’s a very relevant question, especially for zoo animals. So, the fact that there’s these new, new winds every 10 or 20 years that help us refine even further, I can’t even imagine what we’re gonna be doing in 20 years, no less 50 years. So, it’s, it’s a very exciting planet to have landed on. I often say, on a bad day, you know, absorb this experience as well, because when they beam you back up to your planet for the report, you know, on Earth you’ll be able to say all of this really amazing, and rich information about how hard it is, but how fabulous it is, and how many failures we have, but how many successes we have. It’s, it’s an amazing thing to be here. if that doesn’t sound too strange.

[00:19:24] Emily:  It real. It really is. It really is. Life is interesting. I just finished watching a show called Station 11 on HBOMax.

[00:19:32] Susan: Yes, I’ve seen it. And I read the book, uhhuh.

[00:19:34] Emily:  Okay. I love it. It was, it filled my cup for sure. But I love that, like the message of the show is that even we have these like major setbacks and major tragedies and there’s still hope. There’s still progress, there’s still joy. And what moving forward looks like is different. We’re not trying to recapture something from the past. We’re inventing this new, there’s something new to move towards. It’s not just recovering what we lost.

And that was something that I was like, wow, that is so pertinent to our profession because in so many cases we’re working with animals who have experienced major traumas and we’re not trying to get back what we lost. But there is something that we can move towards that looks totally different. And through our work with these animals, we actually come up with something better. Like we become better at working with behaviorally healthy individuals, behaviorally healthy learners by learning from how to make, behaviorally unwell animals, uh, move forward and, and heal through that process. Right?

[00:20:38] Susan: It’s also, I’ll tell you, it’s also relevant to my stage in life as a 70-year-old seeing all these new and different things coming in. And the tendency is to want it the way it was, right? Well, when I was your age and when I was working with kids, and you know, we didn’t have cell phones and computer when I, when I, I remember when.

And so, what you’re saying really hits home, uh, because it’s about remembering that it isn’t reclaiming what I experienced. It’s about bouncing forward to keep bouncing forward. Um, so thank you for that. Yeah, that’s a great idea.

[00:21:17] Emily:  Uh, moving forward, speaking of moving forward, uh, I wanted to bring you on because of all of my mentors, you’ve really been my greatest teacher about how to have really good observational skills. As you know, this podcast is focused on enrichment, and in order to build a solid enrichment plan, you need to have solid observational skills.

So, I’d love it if you could share with our listeners some of your best takeaways for how to develop really solid observational skills.

[00:21:43] Susan: Yeah, I do think that, seeing what’s in front of you. With whatever modality you use to take in this information is a key to the castle. There are a few keys, but this is one of them. And of course coming up with, teaching children, or I was the trainer of trainers at the center. I would go into the classroom and I would watch, and take data on the relation between the environment and the behavior we were seeing, including the teacher as the environment and the other children at as the environment relative to the, to the kid I was watching. So, I’ve been, um, trained to look for information and to target what I’m looking for, behavior environment in co influence, um, for a very, very long time. I started in my, early twenties or 19, something like that.

And then, when I started working with animals, I didn’t have that skill because my skill was related to those micro face, facial expressions we were talking about. And, seeing where a hand was and whether it was balled up in a fist, so that could be interpreted as uncomfortable and, uh, where shoulders are and relative to ears and that sort of thing. And then what in the environment occasion, those responses.

When it came to looking at animals, I didn’t have that yet. And so, I had to really work to be able to learn new languages across the species. And I remember I was on the fortunate enough to be on the Condor recovery team and, um, that was very exciting for a behavior person to, to be in with those biologists and to have some influence. I will tell you; I never really came up with anything of great influence. I wouldn’t say. So that’s something I look back on and wonder, could I, could I have been more influential now, or were they not ready to have behavior environment be as influential as it as it has become? But that’s on one of the lists, one of my lists of, I wish to have done it better somehow, but I still haven’t figured out how yet. So, it sits there. Um, but I remember being at the LA Zoo, looking at the condors that they were, breeding and, and in the plan of putting the young condors back into the, in California condors, back into the environment, into the, uh, free world. And I stood behind Mike, uh, someone who had incredible gifts and skills with these condors.

And I said to him, he said, “Oh look, that one’s about to fly.” And I was, I said to him, “What, what did you see that allowed you to know that?” And most often what you get back from people is, ” Oh, I don’t know. I just, you know, I just, I’m good with animals, I’m good with California condors.” You know? as a behaviorist, I want to say, “Yeah, but what was your life experience that brought you to this?” You know, it’s interesting, um, intuition in behavior analysis, many of us call it our latent database. So, it’s still part of what we’ve learned, but it’s in the part of the brain where you’re not thinking. It’s in the non-conscious, automatic, fluid part of your brain, like the part of brain you use when you drive home. And don’t remember stopping at the stop sign. You know, you’re not problem solving the stop sign. You’re not even hearing your thoughts about it; you’re just doing it. That bigger part of your brain is, um, where he was and that’s what he was calling just his intuition.

But that was a good enough, from a science point of view. So, I kept scratching at those doors, and finally he would say things like, “Well, watch that left shoulder. Do you see it going up? And watch how he’s starting to move the two wings in a pumping action. Look how he’s coming down in his center of gravity. Watch those eyes. They’re going left and right. And so, they’re, he’s getting ready to take off.” And over the many querying, you know, standing behind great trainers, and saying, “Tell me how you knew that.” I was able to build up this database, if that doesn’t make it sound too unmedical. Data is very magical to me.

And I was able to then start generalizing across species because there is so much that we share, and that’s something that I’ve, I’ve noticed as well is our cultural stories are so much about celebrating how we’re different. Noah’s arc, the ultimate icon of diversity, two by two, the giraffes and the snails, but really what our interest is, or in addition to that, our interest is what makes us the same. Because we are using universal principles of behavior that we then custom fit not just to the species, but to the individual who may or may not be like their species general descriptions. Right?

So, we’re, we’re going down to an even smaller level of analysis. When I look at a tiger, I have some general ideas of what tiger body language is in general, but any particular tiger, or any particular dog, or parrot, or child, or colleague may use their body language in non-typical ways. And so, part of the skill is to be able to switch focus from your general ideas about what it is going to be to what it actually is, and then that’s not enough. You have to not only be able to observe it, to perceive it, but then you have to let it influence what you’re going to do next. And that’s been the add-on for me, maybe the last 10 years or so that I’ve realized that it’s not enough anymore to help people learn how to look by standing behind experts and saying, but what did you see? Then you have to open up really wide to let that information move you. So, we’re not doing things to animals or learners we’re doing things with, and it’s this dynamic exchange.

And so, just this year, Amy Schulz and I, who’s a behavior expert and does a lot of work with giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, she and I presented a paper at ABMA, the, um, zoo, Behavior Management for Zoo Association, calling it a dynamic training system, and our reinforcement less about schedules of reinforcement, continuous, intermittent from textbooks. We have a slide that, that cuts the cord from a textbook and says, that’s not really describing what we do when we train. If you’re following a schedule of reinforcement, that was very important because it taught us how behavior patterns are moved, are related to rates of reinforcement, but when you’re training, it’s this dynamic reinforcement system that doesn’t follow a schedule printed out on a paper. The animal may look uncomfortable, so you may up your rate of reinforcement, and then they may show you comfortable behavior, so you can reduce your rate of reinforcement. So that sort of broke through this idea that it’s not only enough to observe well and to interpret well, especially when you don’t have the verbal bridge.

But even when you do, because the verbal bridge is, you know, our best report, it may not be accurate either. but then you have to really open your chest, you know, open up wide to be able to let that move your behavior. It’s not a monologue anymore. In 25 years, we’ve come to this new place where we’re seeking out ways of having a dialogue with the learner and, and that’s that for me is the new high watermark of teaching.

[00:29:40] Emily:  I love that, and I think that it’s such a, an important point that we learn all of these things about the opera consequences, and the schedules of reinforcement, but we need to move the conversation forward and stop bickering over those things. I, the way I talk about it is like, you know, that’s like learning those things is like learning the letters of the alphabet. But when you’re talking about what constitutes great writing, you’re not arguing about which letters you’re using, right? So, you have to learn them.

[00:30:08] Susan: Magnificent metaphor. That is unbelievable. I will use it. I will cite you, that will help get people to your book. The main citing to get people to each other. That’s really great. That is really great.

[00:30:20] Emily:  Because it is, it’s about looking at the big picture and, and being able to have a conversation. That’s what good observational skills do for you is being able to be present in the conversation between you and I, I even hesitate saying you and your learner, because as you know, and you taught me, actually, you’re both the learners in that, in that in interaction, right?

You’re both simultaneously learning from and teaching each other, and so that is such an important component of, or no, it’s such a, an important outcome of good observational skills, right?

[00:30:54] Susan: Right. And when you say, um, we’re both learners, that’s another way of saying that you’ve allowed yourself to be influenced, right? It’s the same behavior, the same concept. When I say open yourself up to be influenced, to say that in short, is allow yourself to be learning as you’re teaching. It’s a, it’s about the dialogue. So that’s, that’s, yeah, really cool. That’s exactly how I see it as well.

[00:31:20] Emily: I just wanna take a moment to express so much gratitude to you because as you mentioned earlier, I did, I stumbled across you when I needed it most. And, and I, I have learned so much from you, and this has informed everything that I do. So, I’m really honored to have you on to have this discussion cuz it feels like full circle, like coming back to where I started

[00:31:42] Susan: Isn’t that fabulous? Yeah, you’re an influencer. You build something that helps change the world, and I feel that that warmth and gratitude to you as well. I remember you. I mean, it’s been a long relationship now, right? We’ve known each other for and, and interacted for a long time. You know, it’s really a beautiful thing. This community has provided us really well, and and we’ve provided well within it too, so we enjoy it.

[00:32:10] Emily: So, along the lines of, observation really being a component of having that conversation, and dynamic interaction. I wanna broach a sensitive topic now because I think it’s both really, really important, and also really relevant to this discussion. As you know, many people with autism are, are hurt and angry, and rightfully so about the ways in which Applied Behavior Analysis has been poorly applied, resulting in coercive and sometimes even abusive practices.

One of the mantras that I’ve seen coming out of this hurt and anger is, ” Don’t observe, include.” and I understand where that’s coming from because essentially what they’re saying is, stop treating us like lab rats and let us have a say in our own experience. And that’s absolutely correct and justified.

That said, one of the things that you do incredibly well and that I am learning from you, is providing your learners with lots of agency, which is giving learners control over their own outcomes. Which is exactly what the don’t observe, include mantras asking for, right? So, what I’ve learned from you is that you can’t actually give your learner agency if you don’t have really finely honed observational skills.

So, like we were talking about before, you have to observe, so that you can interpret, so that you can have that dynamic interaction, right? Um, and I experienced that from you as a teacher, that you are one of the first teachers that I had that really included me in my own learning process. And I felt like you were alongside me instead of in front of me. So, can you speak more to that? I would love to hear you dive a little deeper into that, aspect of, of how observation is a critical component of including the learner in their own learning process.

[00:33:47] Susan: Yeah. I think that, first of all, let me acknowledge, let me acknowledge the, I mean, I feel odd even saying, you know, acknowledges, though my acknowledgement would ever mean anything to anybody. You know, it’s my actions that will mean things. But when I hear the description from people who are now adults who have come through the early Applied Behavior Analysis programs of the sixties, seventies, eighties, and even, and even into the nineties. I, I wanna say, that I really hear you. My own experience confirms much of those descriptions, and at the same time to say that behavior analysis is not a monolith, it is not one single thing. It is applied in many different ways across many different appliers, like any, like any profession. But when I look back on my own work with the boys that I described earlier, there are things that we did, like timeout rooms, and, and stuff that I, I would not want to do now. And I will share with you, I had a very, I don’t know, it was an impactful experience for me.

I went, you know, I haven’t worked in Special Ed for 25 years, working with non-human learners now has ex, exceeded my experience with people. I went to teach at a school for children with autism, and other learning needs, to be a speaker about my animal work, at a conference. And when I went into the school, the children were coming in at the beginning of the day. And there was a big reception desk, a long reception counter, and I was on one side of it with another Behavior Analyst, Shahla Ali, whose work in ethics is profound. So, you might want to check her out. Shahla Ali Rosales you’ll be able to find her on the internet. And, the other speakers were kind of milling around, and she and I were hanging out on the end of the desk watching, observing these children come in. And one boy came in, maybe he was about five years old, and I noticed that he, they locked the door.

So again, I’m just highlighting all the things, good, observing, you know, keeping your mouth closed for a minute, which is not always easy for me. And just watching things unfold. And he threw, you know, a, a temper tantrum for lack of a better label for it. He did not want to be in that building, and his mom was on the other side going back into the car to drive away. They locked the door, and he was just clawing, and slamming, and fighting, and it was heartbreaking to see how much energy and behavior he was putting into getting out. And I turned to Shahla and I said, “Are we still doing this? Because you would never do this to a lion. You would never do this to a koala. And I would never have done this to my child.”

And it reminded me also of the early days in my writing when I was really shut out by the lay experts of the day. You’ll remember in the companion parrot world, one of them said about my work in disagreement, “Well, you would never let your child decide whether to take a bath or not. And you would never let a child decide whether to go to school or not.”

And when I got to the point in my career where I could write a veterinary chapter, my first chapter, that was my conclusions was some people may think that it’s right to prevent behavors from behaving and to not help them, um, and to not hear them, and see them, and be influenced. But, but in fact, I wouldn’t force my child to go to school. I’d ask, “What’s going on at school that makes it an aversive place to be?” And why do they not wanna take a bath?

So, you see, this is the changing of the guard, as we talked about in the beginning. This is the changing from generation to generation. I would no sooner force a kid, or an animal to do something they didn’t wanna do, barring a lifesaving maneuver, than I would, you know, wear my pants on my head. It’s just no longer in me. It is not my culture. It’s not the way I see the world anymore. With force and coercion first. With this notion that it’s better for the kid, or the animal in the long run to force them.

So, one thing that I would say is, I look back on some of the things that I did in my career working with autistic kids or behavior disordered children, all those labels, you know, you know that I don’t like those descriptors anyway. But these are the kids who would not succeed without the really the best teaching we’ve got. You know, and that’s the label I prefer. The rest. The rest of the kids learn under terrible circumstances and seem to be okay. But, these kids that I’m describing, don’t do well, just thrown into the deep end of the pool, and you know, asked to claw their way to the side and dangle there for six hours a day. There are things, when I look back, I wouldn’t do, but it was not some of the abuses that I’m aware of now. And that I was even aware of then. That being able to observe carefully, that there are other ways to meet outcomes that include the learner in their own path. I, I don’t know how you can do that without observing well. And being again, we’re, you know, it is full circle. You and I always end up back in the origins places because they are the underpinnings. This is the natural science, this is our gravity. Is that your outcomes are better when you are in conversation with the learner, when you are in dialogue, not monologue with the learner.

So, I know that I’ve kind of rambled around your question, because what you bring to me in that question is an opportunity for me to, to say yes. Those early years were, were not what we know now, but, but I will say, and I even hate the word, but you know, it feels hot. It burns me when I say, but I will say that we didn’t know what we know now. You know? I was also scuffing my puppy 30 years ago, and doing the Monks of New Sketes alpha roll. Thinking that I was doing not only the right thing, but the best that we knew at that time. So, from my vantage point, but with careful respect to the people who actually experienced those abuses, one element to contribute, and then it’s either picked up or it’s not, is that we really didn’t know what we know now. And had we known what we know now, I don’t know about some people, will always be abusers, but the mainstay of behavior analysis would’ve been doing and are doing what we know now. So, we think of having kids sit at desks with, you know, thousands of discreet trial training for a raisin and, um, not letting them get up, or forcing them to bring the plate to the sink. Or not only does that challenge our ethical stance, which is now clearly the least intrusive, effective method, but what is least intrusive has wildly changed to include the learner. I don’t think that, I, I think that observation skills are super important because to have that dialogue, you’ve gotta see who’s in front of you.

[00:41:17] Emily: I think one of the things that I also want to acknowledge is that, like you said, the field in general knows more now than it did and does better now than it did. And also, there are still people who are doing some pretty terrible things because of different a, you know, a lack of access to, really good mentors, and teachers within their profession.

And the reason I bring that up is because I had a conversation recently with a behaviorist in our field. I normally prefer to cite my sources, but in this case, I wanna be sensitive to the fact that she was talking about her child. So, I don’t want to, out that. But she was saying that her, her child was telling her that a lot of the, the training was focused on, getting people with autism to stop stimming because it’s not socially acceptable to stim. And he was saying, it’s not a problem for us. Why are you, it doesn’t matter what, what teaching style you use, the teaching goal is messed up because it’s not a problem for us, so it shouldn’t be a problem. You should learn to accommodate your learner.

And I thought that was such a beautiful and insightful comment from a person with autism to say like, this is, this is the conversation that this is part of this observational skills is, not just observing the behavior that’s happening and the impact of the environment, but observing the relevance of our, of our goals, and are those goals actually even, correct? Are they even helpful? Are they healthy, are they beneficial? And I see so many parallels between that and, and working with non-human learners as well. So, much of dog training and bird training. It’s like, why do they need to learn that? It’s, it’s not helping them, it’s not working towards their physical, behavioral, and emotional health.

And so, that is part of that conversation is, when you teach in the way that you have taught me to teach, being able to observe means also being able to say, is this even a goal? Is this healthy for us, right?

[00:43:10] Susan: Huge. Emily. This is a huge concept. I mean, we could talk really all day so productively about this because it runs through all of our work, and all of our interactions. This is how I ended up in the principal’s office. Why did I need to do the snail shape another time? I had done this nail shape to fluency, and of course the reason why the teacher had me do it was it kept me busy, and then they were able to walk around the room and help others who weren’t fluent in their snail shape. But I was done. Why? And that why does, why does the learner need to know this or do this?

And even if you have a great reason, because the notion I think we can open up to, to remember back in time how little was known. I mean, those discreet trials and the hands down to stim, and stuff that was in comparison to the generation before that, that would’ve tied the kid down, or put ’em in the attic their whole life. So, if we want to, we don’t have to, but it is of interest to me to take even a longer view of where those goals came from, were the hope that you could give children a repertoire that would make them have a, a more mainstream life. That was in a time where being in a mainstream was the ultimate. For my mother, the ultimate was, was producing three children who would be in the mainstream. The fact that the mainstream changed, I have no aprons in the house, no pearls, and I’m certainly not meeting my husband at the door with a martini after taking care of the children, and cooking dinner, right?

So, everything is always moving, and I never, I don’t hold the value that people shouldn’t be angry. And I mean, I’m angry about many, many things and they’re righteous angers. But I can say for me, from my point of view, I can remember the previous generation. And when you come from that generation’s force and coercion, to my parents, so your grandparents’ generation, that turned down that dial, at least mine did, and then my generation that turned it further down, but missed a lot of things that we look at now and say, “How could you have missed that if the stimming behavior is not a problem for the individual, why would that be a goal?” Especially given the amount of time, and energy, it is effortful to change those behaviors, if in fact you ever do. What, we need a very good rationale for why that would be important.

Times have changed, but I will say, cuz I think it’s so, there’s so many facets to this conversation. It would be easy to shortchange it in just one talk, is that times have changed. We know better now, but part of the reason why we know better, or we’re moving in that ongoing, always improving direction, part of the impetus of those changes is the righteous anger. So, I never want to forget that without the righteous anger that I read about, and hear about, and the information it holds for us. About what it was like to be in those situations, and so forth. That is our, our best source of change. So, you know, I grew up in the age, you know, sitting on the White House, long singing We shall Overcome. It is the dissidence that has an impetus to move us forward. It’s not the only way, it’s not the only impetus, but it’s a critical one. So, that’s why I’ve always invited, you know, PETA to the table conceptually. We never want to sit at a table where all we have is our own reflection, or we would not only be back in the trying to reduce stimming, we would be back in locking kids in the attic. So, that’s very important too. So, where anyone falls on this picture, or where, where they lie, and how they feel, you know, I think we have to be open to the full range. And I’m just expressing where I am today, and to have that information, you know, we didn’t have that information from autistic people in the past, and our, all our goals were about nor normalcy. Look how in our, in our culture now we’re, we’re cracking out of that restriction about what normal needs to be.

I remind people that we didn’t know what we know now, and that each person will experience that effect in their lives. That they look back and think, how could I have missed this? That, that’s just a very natural part of growing. But at the same time, this information is very precious because it’s part of the impetus we need for change. If we don’t get that feedback, what would be the reason for changing what we do?

[00:47:56] Emily: I think it’s really important, and much appreciated that you don’t tone police people and that you give them the space to have and express those emotions. Because I see that happening so much with people who are pushing for change in general, everywhere. I think that tone policing happens, like you’re, you’re not, you’re not going to be as effective as if you’re angry. And that’s simply not true, as you pointed out. Where I think it’s the most painful for me is when I see the positive reinforcement community, people saying, “You can’t feel anger because that’s not positive reinforcement.”

And, and that is like, let’s not, that’s not, that’s not what positive reinforcement means. It’s not meant to suppress people’s emotions and, and silence their anger, valid, like you said, righteous anger. So, I appreciate you taking the time to, to say that because it’s so important to say, ” We hear you, and your anger is valid, and your anger is going to continue to propel us forward, and in making better changes, and, and moving forward.” So, thank you for that.

[00:49:02] Susan: It’s interesting to hear you say that people will say, if you are committed to a positive reinforcement style of interaction with the world, that that means that you don’t feel anger. That that’s, um, maybe a new one for me. So, I’ll, I’ll give that more thought. I’m not, for me, that’s clearly crossed wires. I don’t, I don’t spend a lot of time being angry as you know, but I mean, to not be angry when you feel anger. I would, I guess it’s what you do with it, you know?

So, you observe the feelings that we call anger. And this is one of the cool things about understanding emotions from a behavior analysis point of view, is that rather than thinking of it as just something going on inside you, that when you feel those emotions, that you then look outward to the environment, and ask what’s going on that is, that is setting those emotions in play? And then use your behavior, your superpower, to change the environment to move them. So, there’s a lot of problems with anger, if it is suppressed, but also if all you do is feel angry. Anger is an emotion that I assume has evolved to spur action. And so, that’s how I think about those negative feeling emotions is, what’s my action? You know, why am I feeling this? What am I gonna do?

So, I think that’s an important thing to consider too. I mean, sometimes people stay angry because they’re reinforced for it. I, last year I actually yelled at my online class students because somebody said, “Oh, I, I feel like such an imposter. I’m so confused.” And I watched that go by the chat board, and, um, people kind of rallied and said, “Oh, don’t feel, don’t feel like an imposter. Don’t feel confused. Don’t worry. It was hard for me too when I was new.” And um, then the next class that came through again, the person said it again, and everybody piled on petting, and making her feel better. And after the fourth or fifth time, I finally said, “Hey, we do hard things all the time. Doing hard stuff is part of what we have to do. And when you reinforce those utterances of, “oh, oh, oh.” What do you, is that really what you wanna do? Yeah. What’s going on here?” So, it was so funny cuz I’ve never yelled at an online class before, but there’s where I felt a little bit of flare of temper, just saying, um, ” What are we reinforcing?”

And so, sometimes when I see someone who is in constant anger and without action, I have to observe carefully to see is the lack of action because they’re being blocked from action, which then our job is to help open doors to action, or is it because it’s reinforcing in their community? And that’s something that I’m observing all the time as well. You know, and people say they have the imposter syndrome, and everybody piles on to tell them how great they are.

I usually type in, ” Just think for a minute, what’s reinforcing about that? Is there anything reinforcing about that?” It’s kind of a shocking curve ball, but I ask myself the same question as well.

[00:52:08] Emily:  Yeah. My response to a lot of people tell me they have imposter syndrome. And a lot of people ask how Allie and I have done everything that we’ve done, and, and they say, “Well, you know, I couldn’t because I have imposter syndrome.” And, and my response to that is, ” We all have imposter syndrome and it depends on what you do with it. Right?” Like for me, when I have that feeling of imposter syndrome, that’s the signal that I should learn more about the thing that I’m doing.

[00:52:33] Susan: Bravo. That’s my answer too. I say to people, you feel like an imposter cuz you are an imposter. What the hell are you doing working with aggressive dog behavior? That dog’s going to eat the baby. Go get a mentor. And that’s one of the things of course that distinguishes you. Is that, you kept yourself in an active learner role at the same time you’ve been the teacher to others.

I guess it’s what you were saying to me before, but it really comes clear to me now. You just never stop being both at one, maybe we could replace the phrase imposter syndrome with humble. Oh, you mean like you might not feel like you know everything? Well, we all feel that way. Now, what are you gonna do about it?

That’s right. I’m a, I’m a little bit of a hard ass on this stuff. Because the people who say it are often really new in the field, and I’m, some days I’m like exhausted with how much information I’m holding. You know, it’s heavy after all of these decades of learning, and I wanna say, just go learn.

[00:53:33] Emily:  So, Neil Gaiman told a story about, he was at a party, and, and Neil Armstrong was at the party, and he’s like, “I don’t know why I was invited to this thing, look at all these people that are so incredibly accomplished, like, why am I here?” And he was like, “If Neil Armstrong can feel imposter syndrome, then we all can, right?” So, I, I see, I, I recognize what you’re saying about how we see that a lot in, um, new people, but I think everybody feels that to an extent, but there’s a difference between seeking comfort and reassurance, or just seeking knowledge. Right? So, we all feel that way. And then what do you do about it? And it’s the same thing with anger too, right?

But it’s a little, that’s a little bit off topic, but I think it’s, um, a kind of a natural progression of this conversation of, being really good observers of behavior to include the learner, and to have a productive goal in mind, right? And so that we don’t get stuck in whatever we’re in.

[00:54:26] Susan: Whatever you do, just keep moving. That’s what one of my main phrases from raising my teenage daughters. You know, go to college, don’t go to college. Whatever you do, just keep moving. Don’t get stuck. Yeah. I just wanna throw in before you, so deftly change us back to the topics that you wanted to talk about. The reason why I think that I push back on the imposter syndrome thing and the idea that we all feel it, we do, I think we do. I think experts do feel it when they’re in new settings and so forth, and so that’s a very important share.

But imposter syndrome is a construct. It’s a label. It doesn’t exist in any tangible form. And so, I actually went to the internet and said, “Okay, what, what do clinical psychologists mean by this phrase?” And I wonder how many people have sought that information out? Or are they just grabbing the common vernacular, meaning of the two terms together, and then using it to describe what they do? Imposter syndrome is not when you’re new to a profession, and you feel insecure, you feel worried that you don’t have enough experience to do well. Which if you’re new, you probably don’t, without a mentor, but it’s when you are highly accomplished, and you feel insecure about your abilities.

So, I think that’s an important thing to remind people is that this has a technical meaning. And if you’re not highly accomplished, and we can describe what that is. You know, at least several years in the field, with some accomplishments and some failures to learn from, and you know, then it’s not the right term. If the right term is, I’m feeling unprepared, given my level of experience and education to do this case, many times I say, “Well, I agree. So, who’s your mentor? Who’s your supervisor?” And that’s a big problem because we don’t have enough mentors at this stage in our profession.

[00:56:18] Emily:  I know, that’s why I started the mentorship program,

[00:56:21] Susan: Fantastic.

[00:56:22] Emily:  Because it’s a fair point. I mean, we were looking at, you know, there’s a lot of different training academies, and some of them touch on behavior consulting to a greater or lesser degree, but none of them, I mean, they’re focused on training, rightfully so.

It’s not a criticism of these programs, right? There are no programs that focus on behavior consulting as a parallel profession to training, but they are two separate things. And there wasn’t, a program like that didn’t exist, and so my response to my anger about that was to create a program because it didn’t exist.

[00:56:58] Susan: Cool. And where would we find that program? Now you get to plug.

[00:57:03] Emily:  Well, this is on our website, pet harmony training.com, but also, we’re here for you, not me, but my, but my point is that yes, that is, th, this is very salient to the conversation that we’re having now of getting mentorship. And also, what do you do with uncomfortable feelings? They’re not bad just because they’re uncomfortable and, and we shouldn’t suppress them. And this idea of positive reinforcement training, being incompatible with negative feelings is just not true.

[00:57:31] Susan: I don’t even get the connection. That’s how far from that I am.

[00:57:34] Emily:  Yeah, I’ve seen people just like shaming other people for being angry, rightfully angry about things and saying, “I thought you believed in positive reinforcement.” And it’s like what? Those two things are have nothing to do with each other. What are you talking about?

[00:57:46] Susan: I hear it now. It’s that if I am like emoting, yelling, feeling high emotions, high arousal, negative value in my, my world, now understanding that emotions are tracking the contingency, the environmental experience that I’m having now.

And somebody says to me, “Stop shouting. I thought you were into positive reinforcement.” I mean, I guess what they’re saying is that you should be catching me being good, and ignoring what you think I’m doing that’s not good? Or talking about what you think is not good that I’m doing in a less punishing way? So would we, if we replace the word anger with the action of punishment, and people said, “Don’t. Stop punishing me, I thought you were into positive reinforcement. Let’s talk about this.” Maybe they would get further in our language. But you’re right, it’s not about suppressing emotions, and it’s important that we observe the emotions and, that we ask, what in the environment is setting that emotion in play?

Rather than only looking inward to get an explanation for why we’re feeling that way. I would say that the new information is our feelings, our tracking the experience we’re having, and by connecting the two, we’re able to then act on the environment to change the feelings.

[00:59:11] Emily:  Yeah, I would agree with that, I think, there, yes. There’s, um, there’s that fine line to walk of when you’re angry, you don’t take it out on a person, but saying, because I am angry, and I’m speaking out against something. and it’s not directed at any person. It’s just talking about an issue at large.

And I’m saying myself, because I wanna make sure that I’m not, um, putting this on somebody else, right? So, this is, I’m not referring to any specific incidents, I’m just bringing it into myself. So I’m, I’m holding myself accountable, not other people, but, the, the right thing to do in that situation where someone is, taking a stand about something, and, and it having valid anger about it, instead of telling them, don’t punish people, and now if they were, if somebody is attacking a person drive, if I was yelling at you, Susan, about something that you did, then that’s where that punishment conversation would be maybe relevant. Like, okay, how can we, how can we set this up differently? But if somebody is angry about something that is an, an injustice, right? Shaming them and saying they’re not, you know, using positive reinforcement is, uh, is not the most productive.

[01:00:18] Susan: It’s not even. It’s as far, I mean, I’ll cons, I’ll continue to think about it, but it doesn’t strike me as even relevant. So yeah, I mean, emotions also are behavior, and part of our, behavioral evolutionary history. And so, I think we need to ask what function do they serve? And when we have an answer to that, you know, which is I think that they are, the first flag out that says something’s wrong, and then we learn what to do about it. I guess if someone said that to me when they saw me being angry about an issue, you know, I would feel incredibly shut down and blocked. So, we have to talk more about this and think of good ways to respond.

[01:01:00] Emily:  Yeah, I would love that. We can, we can have a follow up conversation later about this. Okay, so let’s move on. we’re gonna just move into the outro because we’ve had a rich conversation and also, we need to be mindful of time. What is one thing you wish people knew about either this topic, your profession, or enrichment? to choose.

[01:01:22] Susan: You know, for me, they’re all so closely related that I can, I can even imagine an answer that just nets all of those, um, prompts. I think that the, the new edge for me and for the people that I’m working with is not about, enrichment as an item, as a thing you put into an enclosure, or into a bird room, or aviary. That the new goal is now to create environments, and behavior analysts have always been big environmental engineers, at our best, that’s what we should be doing, is to create environments that encourage, that facilitate varied behavior, diverse behavior for diverse reinforcers. So, if we understand that we’re all behaving for an outcome for reinforcers, or to escape a verse of stimuli, that’s what behavior evolved to do. To give us the power to not only be influenced by the environment, but to move the environment. So, it’s a, by by definition, it’s an empowerment to be able to move the environment with our behavior. What are we moving it for? We’re moving it for diverse reinforcers, and that requires a diverse behavioral repertoire. So, now when I look at an environment for a kid, for my puppy, for zoo animals, I’m scanning with my observation skills. In what way does this environment facilitate diverse behaviors for diverse reinforcers? And that if we did that, I think we would cover all of the things that you mentioned. And that’s what I would like people to take on board. Is observing environments and then creating with our actions environments that do that.

And you describe to me your bird room, you know, where you’re addressing sound reinforcers, and activity reinforcers, and dismantle reinforcers. You know, these are diverse reinforcers that require a wide range of behaviors within the biology of the animal. And I, I, I do think less about what’s in the natural environment versus in captivity in human care. I think more about where we are here, how can the natural ethology of the animal, their natural history inform us? But we also have to be mindful that they’re in the environment they’re in now, and we could do all sorts of things that we wouldn’t see in a giraffe’s natural environment that would still produce diverse um, behaviors using all of their senses, all of their adaptations for a wide variety of outcomes. If we could focus on that, I think we would have quite a different. set of goals for our training and our consulting work.

[01:04:16] Emily:  That’s one of my takeaways that I want people to think about is, when we’re constructing an enrichment plan, and we’re looking at the environment, the role that it plays in that enrichment plan, a lot of times you have to think about unnatural solutions to elicit natural behaviors.

My bird throwing a cat food can across the floor that’s an unnatural uh, solution. Eclectic parrots aren’t throwing cat food cans around the wild, but it is eliciting a natural behavior. And that’s sometimes I think hard. People get really stuck on the natural thing sometimes, and they’re looking just for natural objects, and that’s not a criticism. I love that people are thinking about that, but sometimes we have to look to things like food puzzles and cat food cans, to get the job done right.

[01:04:59] Susan: Right. It really, it really pushes us to consider the construct natural behavior. You know, what, what does it mean? And I think that a misunderstanding from my point of view that people hold, when you think that behavior is inside the organism, instead of in the exchange between their biology and the environment. Then you think they have a repertoire inside them, and enrichment is about triggering those things inside to come outside. That’s not my view, or I would say not a learning science view of natural behavior. Natural behavior is any behavior that can be displayed by an animal, and what we’re trying to do is give them purpose. So, they may, we may have enrichment environments, enriched environments, environments rich with varied stimuli that elicit natural behaviors. But we also may be evoking unnatural behaviors, like a dog sitting to get food. That is an unnatural relation between consummatory behavior and sitting, because they don’t sit in the wild, right? They stalk, they hunt, they procure. So, I’m not even sure if we couldn’t do well to expand this concept of an enriched environment should elicit natural behavior.

 It should elicit and evoke diverse behavior, whether we see that behavior because it’s been learned in the wild, or because it’s been learned in human care. So, what we think of as natural behavior. Is that a lack of learning? I don’t think so. I think it’s the result of selection by reinforcers in the savannah.

[01:06:48] Emily:  I love that so much.

[01:06:49] Susan: Is a little bit of a different angle, but it’s sort of where I’m at these days.

[01:06:53] Emily: It’s lighting me up because that is a beautiful way to articulate what I was trying to articulate. So, thank you for that. I, I’m definitely going to take that, and of course, cite you.

[01:07:05] Susan: Oh no.

[01:07:06] Emily:  Uh,

[01:07:06] Susan: Good.

[01:07:08] Emily:  Next question. What is one thing you’d love to see improved in your field?

[01:07:12] Susan: Yeah. You know, that is such a hard question. I guess I would love to see a redefinition of the idea of an expert, and that, like you said, that we value our experts by how much they’ve learned, and moved, and changed what they do and teach that. We don’t consider experts, people who hold a union card, and that that never changes. Because I think that our audiences, and our clients have a lot of power over what we do, by what they reinforce, and if they’re looking for people who are never changing, that encourages us to stay fixed in what we know and what we do.

But if our clients and audiences value us for being learners as well, and don’t lose confidence in us, or in one another, then we’ll all be, you know, eating information, practicing all the time. And so, yeah, maybe that, maybe that boils down to, um, being less judgmental as a reaction. And if we’re going to be judgmental, have that be more of a considered response.

I’m not afraid of judgment, it’s that knee jerk reaction that is, um, fractionalizing our, in our, our community. Why is it reinforcing that we are broken into small pieces all the time? How is it possible to be respectful colleagues, but hold different points of view? Those are, those are the kinds of things I think that I most care about in terms of thinking of our community of influencers.

[01:08:51] Emily: I love that. I think the, one of the reasons that I talk so much about critical thinking skills is because it’s hard for people to, to separate disagreement from violating boundaries, or from ad hom attacks, and, or from just directness, like not even a criticism. And so, it’s difficult for people to have those conversations without understanding where to draw a line, or where, where, where do we say, this is just a learner who’s in their learning process, and where do we say this is not okay and it needs to stop? And that can be very difficult if you’re not able to distinguish between disagreement, boundary violation, ad hominem attacks.

[01:09:30] Susan: It’s huge. Are you writing about this? Because I think it would be really valuable. You are a big thinker, and a great analyst. You call it critical thinker, I call it an analyst. And your ability to break, your ability, your actions to break apart these, um, very complex issues that we all suffer, I think is a really big contribution for you to make more of because I think that’s really important.

And I’m always asking as a behavior analyst, what is reinforcing about this fight. I don’t get it. Why is it reinforcing to say Susan Friedman said this? Ha ha. And I don’t, I just don’t get it. And I don’t do it. You know, on a bad day I might privately melt down, but I would always judge it as a bad day, and misbehavior, you know, it would not be something I’m proud of. Yeah. So, I hope you’ll write more about the, some of the ideas that we’ve talked about.

[01:10:27] Emily:  There are resources in the works.

I actually just did an interview with Marissa Martino for her podcast, talking about critical thinking skills, I made a little infographic on epistemology for people, we discuss it in the Mentorship Program, in Pro Campus, our professional membership group, we have critical thinking skills sessions. I’m working on it, and also we have a, a larger course that we’re working towards.

[01:10:51] Susan: Good. I’m so glad to hear it.

[01:10:52] Emily:  I think it’s, it’s, I think it’s important to help people navigate the sticky stuff.

[01:10:56] Susan: Absolutely. I mean, philosophically important. North Star finding important.

[01:11:02] Emily:  Continuing on, what do you love about what you do?

[01:11:06] Susan: I love influencing, and I love learning. I mean, there’s nothing, many, many of your listeners who know me will know that I have dinner every weekend with my mentor, Carl Cheney who’s a profoundly important, old time behavior analyst. What a lucky mentor to have right in my own town. And every single dinner, I, I, I stop, my eyes pop outta my head, my jaw falls to the floor, and my husband just hands me a pencil, and a napkin, and I start writing. You know, I, I love to know. And then I love to use that knowledge with influence. So, the two make a very happy life when you love to learn, and you love to teach. What could be better?

[01:11:48] Emily:  Yeah, I agree. having control over your outcomes is cup filling.

[01:11:56] Susan: So, what do I love most? Controlling my outcomes. That would be the perfect answer. How do we control our outcomes? By being a good learner and a good teacher.

[01:12:04] Emily:  Yeah. Uh, what are you currently working on? If people want to work more with, or learn from you, where can they find you?

[01:12:11] Susan: I’m, I’m currently, well, I’m always working on my own knowledge and skills, so that is not meant to be, you know, a kind of Pollyanna comment, I am always track tracking the trail of information that I hear here and there and digging up the research to support it, and or to refute it. You know, I’m always swimming around in, in research, and I’m trying to think of what, what am I working on specifically now in terms of writing? Um, I’m hoping to update my online course slides, so that they’re not in comic sans font anymore. Have we gotten past the comic sans? My daughters tell me we have.

But I’m not working on any specific writing, just all the things that I, that I’m always doing. And then, um, your, the next part of your question was, oh, where can you find me? well, there’s two fun sources. I’m not a big marketer, by any means it’s taken me the 25 years just to get comfortable, where I’m at. But the Facebook page is something that I, I’m quite happy with because it’s light and fun, but it always carries information, in a nugget somewhere in that page.

So go to Behavior Works Facebook and scroll and just see all the incredible content. None of it is my content really. It’s my writing about other people’s great experiences. So that might be fun for people to learn about behavior through this video and paragraph on the Facebook page. And then behavior works.org. there’s everything on that website is available to you to download, and to use to reprint, to put on the back of a t-shirt. There’s nothing on the website behavior works.org that you can’t download, and have, and use. And if there’s anything that you wanna edit for your particular scenario, just email me and, and we can make sure that the edits are in line with my original intent or hope for that piece of information.

[01:14:08] Emily:  Wonderful. Thank you.

[01:14:09] Allie: As always, I learned so much from listening to Dr. Friedman. Susan is a lifelong learner and so open with their learning journey. Many people consider kind at odds with critical, but I think Susan demonstrates beautifully how you can keep a critical eye to your actions and to always strive for improvement while being kind and compassionate in teaching. Next week we will be talking about unlocking the behavior matrix part one.

Thank you for listening. You can find us at petharmonytraining.com and @petharmonytraining on Facebook and Instagram, and also @petharmonypro on Instagram for those of you who are behavioral professionals. As always links to everything we discussed in this episode are in the show notes and a reminder to please rate, review and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts a special thank you to Ellen Yoakum for editing this episode, our intro music is from Penguin Music on Pixabay.


Thank you for listening and happy training.

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