Bio: Rebecca Rios is a certified behavior technician at Spark Behavioral & Associates LLC and has worked with children with special needs professionally for the last five years.
Spark’s goal is to provide person-centered, analytical, empathetic, naturalistic, behavior analytic services for families in their community. This means that working with kids on the Autism spectrum is more than discrete trials, but rather attends to the whole person through settings and circumstances that naturally occur in the child’s experience. Functional daily living skills and communication are primary targets in their treatment approach and their long-term focus is always on supporting skill development that will allow their clients to live their greatest self-determined life.
Rios’ personal values are in line with the company she works with, and she intends to carry them over to her work in clinical mental health counseling. In her free time, Rios enjoys exploring gardens, reading, baking, playing board-games and video games, and most of all spending time with her friends and family.
Why did you choose UWS?
After graduating from the University of Washington, I decided to take a year off and focus on work and family. When I began my search, I had a hard time finding a program that felt like it clicked. When University of Western States presented itself in my search, it was the first time I had heard of the school and when I explored a bit deeper, I was impressed by the comprehensive program design. UWS provides a wide spectrum of classes that are invaluable to the mental health profession and their program demonstrates their meticulous attention to all of the necessary components needed for professional skill development in the field. The feature I was most excited about and impressed by, especially during the pandemic when in-person instruction is not widely available, is the standardized patient component. This piece of the program allows students to hone their skills in simulated sessions with actors specifically trained for this role. The standardized patient component, along with the thoughtful curriculum design makes UWS’ program unique and provides me with confidence that I will be well equipped to begin my career path to becoming a licensed profession counselor once I graduate.
Why did you choose your program/concentration?
When I began my academic career as an undergraduate, I didn’t know what I wanted to study. As a lover of learning, I explored many different subjects, but it wasn’t until I took my first psychology class that I KNEW what I would be studying and practicing for the rest of my life. Not only is the subject one I am passionate about, but I am deeply motivated to grow in knowledge and expertise so that I can help others live their best lives. I am particularly interested in the effects of trauma and its grip it can have on so many individuals. My desire is to help people overcome these kinds of oppressions so that light, love and joy can emerge.
What has been your favorite class/instructor?
At this stage in my education, the factors I value most in my classes are those that facilitate my professional knowledge and development. I can confidently say that all of my classes and professors, thus far, have done just that. In particular, Ethics and Professional Identity took me by surprise, as I expected dry class material; however, instead, our text was readable, interesting, and relevant. The topic that stuck with me most was the concept of a developed professional identity. Rather than being taught a set of rules to act as a safety net, we were encouraged to spend time developing and understanding our own core values, which was inspirational and motivating. All of my professors at UWS have been amazing as they are accessible, responsive and engaged.
What is your favorite way to relieve stress outside of the office and classroom?
My favorite way to destress is making time to go for nature walks among the trees with my kids. The fresh air and greenery are instant balms to my senses. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I am surrounded my awe-inspiring beauty every day and I don’t take that for granted. If I’m not outside in nature, I love hunkering down at home and being cozy while I read, watch movies, play games and enjoy family dinners. All of these things bring me joy and soothes my soul.
What do you hope to do after graduation?
Once I graduate, I plan on pursuing licensure as a mental health counselor. One day I would love to have my own practice and while on my path to this goal, I see myself providing counseling in a couple different settings. I would like to gain experience working with the elderly, perhaps in a senior living center, as well as with adults in a corporate setting. Wherever I end up, my desire is to provide meaningful care that will positively impact and change peoples’ lives.