My name is David Bergmark, and I am the founder and CEO of Waypoints. I have a PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and have been a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) since 2014.
I love the science of behavior analysis, upon which the practice of ABA is based. In high school and college, I studied psychology to learn about people and their behavior. However, I was never satisfied because there wasn’t hard data; you can’t point to parts of the brain and say, “here are the id, ego, and superego.” When I learned about ABA and saw it in action at the preschool I worked at on campus, suddenly the world made sense. The effects of behavior-analytic procedures can be observed and measured, and in combination with the profound benefit that changing the environment can produce in people’s lives, I was hooked.
I knew I wanted a career in ABA, but I didn’t see myself doing clinical work long-term. Despite that, after earning my PhD in Chicago, I moved to Michigan to work as a clinician for a large company. While there was a lot about the company I liked, I saw room for improvement. Unfortunately, I wasn’t given the opportunity to implement the changes needed to address the issues I identified.
Then, I was laid off at the end of 2020. In retrospect, I’m glad it happened. I started Waypoints because, while I didn’t personally want to be a clinician, I wanted to create an environment where good clinical work is prioritized and celebrated through compassionate and efficient systems and supports.
Our Initial Vision
Prior to 2020, I had observed many areas in which our industry needed to improve, and I wanted to have the power to make the necessary changes. I wanted to make sure I worked for a company that prioritized the wellbeing of the staff, especially the behavior technicians.
Toward that end, we needed solid infrastructure to make sure that as we grew, we didn’t “outkick” our coverage and take on more clients than we would be able to provide quality services to. It was crucial to have a team to establish the policies, procedures, and trainings necessary to build the foundation on which we could build everything else.
When I shared my ideas with Rachal Greenman, now our Chief Clinical Director, and Dr. Jessica Gamba, now our Director of Training and Research, they both expressed excitement and interest in joining Waypoints. As we started services, we realized that we were going to need to bring on someone to assist with our administrative tasks sooner rather than later. Fortunately, that is when our Administration Manager, Taylor Jasgur, reached out looking for a new opportunity. This core team shared my values and vision for what Waypoints, and ABA in general, could be.
Behavior Technicians – The Backbone of ABA
What I recognized in our field is that because the behavior technician role requires only a high school diploma, most companies treat the role as entry level. However, the behavior technician role is not entry level. It is a challenging position. When people without a background in ABA succeed as behavior technicians, it’s because of high-quality training.
In Michigan, a 40-hour training is required (in addition to a high school diploma). Many companies will place new behavior technicians with clients immediately after they complete the training, without any additional support. This is a recipe for high turnover of both staff and clients.
At Waypoints, all our technicians receive two weeks of onboarding, including opportunities to observe and work with experienced behavior technicians during client sessions. We are proud to brag about our behavior technician retention for the year: 91%. According to a 2021 report by the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE), monthly turnover for the behavior technician role nationwide is 59%. Our high retention rates result in consistency and improved client outcomes, as well as improved staff and client satisfaction.
What’s Next for Waypoints?
Waypoints has had an amazing first two years, and we’re excited for the future. We plan to keep growing responsibly. We don’t want long waiting lists for clients and we don’t want to hire faster than we can train our team. An expansion of areas of service is also something we often discuss.
We provide ABA services because we know ABA. As we grow, if we find the right people, we might expand the services we offer in order to better help our clients. Our goal is to support our clients to the best of our ability while ensuring our staff are well paid, well trained, well respected, and appreciated.
Currently, we are in the process of moving from preliminary BHCOE accreditation to full accreditation. It is a thorough process, and we are excited to show off our hard work. You can learn about our progress so far in this previous blog post. Another step will be to earn the practica accreditation from the BHCOE. This will allow us to ensure the highest quality of training for behavior technicians who are working towards becoming BCBAs and will also facilitate coordination with their universities to ensure they receive the most comprehensive and well-rounded education and fieldwork possible.
Thanks for Getting to Know Us!
Thank you for taking the time to learn a little more about us! We currently serve about 25 active clients with 35 employees and offer services primarily in Kent and Ottawa Counties. If you’d like to learn more, please see our About Us page!
Get in Touch With Waypoints
Whether you’re looking for diagnostic testing, one-on-one in-home ABA therapy and skill-building resources, or simply want to learn more about our unique approach, please don’t hesitate to reach out! (We love getting mail.)