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Happy, Relaxed and Engaged

The Pathway to Truly Meaningful Outcomes

Happy, relaxed, and engaged is a phrase seldom used when discussing severe challenging behavior; however, over the past several years, it has become more and more prevalent at Upstate Cerebral Palsy.  The phrase is not only used in the context of addressing challenging behavior, but is used to describe the context in which we strive to provide all services.  At the beginning of 2020, we set upon a bold journey to create a new culture and service model built on this Happy, Relaxed, and Engaged mindset.  This journey has shifted us from a caretaking model of support to creating a new comprehensive, value-driven, and evidence-based treatment and teaching model to deliver essential outcomes for the people we support.  The spirit of this work creates a more compassionate environment where we aim to promote dignity, safety, and rapport. Participants in this training will have the opportunity to understand this model, learn about the underlying innovative treatments used at Upstate Cerebral Palsy, and see how we are measuring outcomes.  Videos will be shown that highlight crucial aspects of our new model and provide staff and parent testimonials.  We will also discuss various barriers we encountered and solutions discovered along the way.

Learning objectives

  1. Participants will learn how we use our Universal Protocols to create Happy, Relaxed, and Engaged.
  2. Participants will learn about Dr. Greg Hanley’s Practical Functional Assessment and Skill-Based Treatment as a means to get to meaningful outcomes.
  3. Participants will learn about Dr. Pat McGreevy’s Essentials for Living Assessment and Curriculum as a roadmap to meaningful outcomes.
  4. Participants will learn about our global outcome indicators that we are using to assess the success of this new model.
Dr. Erik Jacobson

Dr. Erik Jacobson

Dr. Erik Jacobson is the Chief Psychologist at Upstate Cerebral Palsy. He is a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist. He received his doctorate in Clinical-Community Psychology from the University of South Carolina. Over the past 20+ years, Erik has provided a range of assessment, diagnostic, and treatment services to children, adolescents, and adults with varying degrees of developmental and comorbid psychiatric disabilities through outpatient, residential, and school settings. He has worked in various capacities within Upstate Cerebral Palsy’s Caring Partnership for the past 15 years. Over the past several years, Erik has overseen the behavior analytic transformation of Upstate Cerebral Palsy’s Clinical Department. This transformation has included innovative training, assessment and treatment practices, research, and employment of the most Board Certified Behavior Analysts in Central New York.

Dr. Mara L. Vanderzell

Dr. Mara L. Vanderzell

Dr. Mara Vanderzell is both a licensed psychologist and behavior analyst in NY who is currently a Senior Behavior Analyst at Upstate Cerebral Palsy, Tradewinds Education Center in central New York. She received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook under the supervision of Edward G. Carr, PhD, BCBA-D. Her doctoral dissertation focused on practical intervention strategies for challenging behavior displayed by individuals with developmental disabilities in home and community settings. Dr. Vanderzell completed her APA-accredited pre-doctoral internship at The May Institute, Inc. in Massachusetts. She has worked in the field of developmental disabilities for over 20 years and her research interests include severe problem behavior, functional communication training, and systems support.

DR. Jon Horn

 Jon Horn

Jon Horn, MA, BCBA, LBA, is currently the Sr. Behavior Analyst for Upstate Cerebral Palsy’s (UCP) adult division in central New York. Since 2005, Jon has worked with students and adults in community, school, and residential settings in both administrative and clinical roles. In 2017, Jon joined the team at UCP’s Tradewinds Education Center to support a comprehensive shift to a behavior analytic model of education. Following the success of the school model, Jon transitioned to UCP’s adult division in early 2020 to expand the implementation of safe, respectful, and effective ABA interventions for adults in residential and day-habilitation settings.