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Sierra grad writes ‘roadmap’ for behaviorists

When Charity Steele finished graduate school and became a behavioral analyst, the options for employment were straightforward – either go to work for a school district, or an agency that specializes in behavioral analysis.

No matter where she looked, the Sierra High School alum couldn’t find any sort of roadmap or blueprint for taking her newly-earned certification and striking out on her own.

So, she wrote one.          

With more than a decade’s worth of experience in the field backing her, Steele has penned a do-it-yourself book for anybody in her specific field that wants to go into private practice – compiling all of the things that she wishes she knew at the time so that the next generation of behaviorists will have tools in their quiver to help them maintain their independence in pursuit of helping others.

Her book —The Business of Behavior: The Behaviorist’s Roadmap to Independent Practice — is set to be available on online platforms like soon.

“Depending on your state or where you live, there are different laws about how people can access the services that behaviorists provide, and often times people are sitting on wait lists waiting to get into see somebody because there is such a huge demand for the services that we provide,” said Steele, who built her practice in the Central Valley after earning her master’s degree and certification from California State University, Stanislaus. “My book is really about helping those who want to be in independent practice, and the business aspect of entering into that world.

“Over the past 11 years I have learned the lay of the land and what it means to practice independently, and this process was all about compiling that information into a roadmap to help people become prepared for what they may face.”

Modeled off of the work of pioneering behaviorist B.F. Skinner, behavioral analysis has become a widely-accepted tool to help individuals with autism amongst other diagnoses and with a federal requirement that insurance companies cover the cost, the field has exploded in recent years – something that Steele says can be a blessing for those who are just finishing their education and looking to go out into the field.

Navigating the landmines of embarking in the world of business, however, is something that she says is paramount to finding success – something that she hopes her book will help with for the aspiring behaviorist that finds that working one-on-one with clients is better suited for their skillset.

And during trying times when students are navigating their education through a computer screen and the world seems chaotic, behavioral analysis is a tool, she said, that everyone from students to teachers to parents can utilize. 

“I’m very passionate about behavioral analysis in general – anything that is behavior is a problem that we can work on and solve,” Steele said. “And right now, there are lots of students that are struggling with distance learning and I believe there are a lot of opportunities to use this and implement some strategies to gain the instructional control that people are seeking.

“When you’re working one-on-one with a client you can individualize the tools to help those that are struggling, and I think that is beneficial.”

And being a published author is always something that Steele wanted to achieve.

For each of her business accomplishments and lessons she always thought that it would be good to be able to share that piece of information with others in the field so that they could learn from and possibly build off of it.

With a growing business and a family, however, finding the time was never in the cards until she linked up with a group of other local aspiring authors and began the process of learning how to apply her existing knowledge to paper and combining those thoughts into a manual that is easy-to-understand and follow.

Having others working to achieve the same goal, she said, was a vital part of getting the project off the ground and having the support to finish it.

“It was inspirational to work with other authors and a valuable part of my experience and me being able to achieve this goal,” Steele said of the group of local authors. “I recognized that there were a lot of methodologies that are included in our science, and that it would make sense for me and I’m very grateful for that process and the group that I worked with.”

Steele’s book, The Business of Behavior: The Behaviorist’s Roadmap to Independent Practice, will be available soon on

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.