10 Under 40 Winner: Michael Harman

Michael J. Harman, Ph.D., BCBA-D   
Assistant Professor of Psychology, Briar Cliff University
Director of the Behavior Analysis Clinic
Director of Siouxland Research Center

What are you working on now? 

I am working to grow and maintain the impact of the pro bono Behavior Analysis Clinic at Briar Cliff University. The importance of this clinic is two-fold. First, this clinic provides an opportunity for students of behavior analysis to gain real-world fieldwork experience. Secondly, the clinic provides the families of Siouxland with a much-needed resource at no cost.   

What is your vision for the future? / What would you like to see happen in Siouxland?

My vision for Siouxland is that it becomes a beacon of hope for families seeking therapeutic services for their children. I envision a Siouxland in which everyone who needs, or who would benefit from therapeutic services, would have access to those services. This would be a Siouxland where the community collectively works to ensure that every child has the best possible opportunity to live their fullest life. 

What are you doing to make that happen?

Fulfilling my vision for Siouxland requires consistent and continual work in advocating, providing, and educating people in the benefits of behavior analytic services. I constantly look for platforms everyday to advocate for the many families in Siouxland that need this type of help. Further, I serve as the Clinical Director for the pro bono Behavior Analysis Clinic at Briar Cliff University. With my team of students, we consistently provide nearly 1,000 hours of pro bono services each year to children with developmental disabilities. I also teach numerous courses to students pursuing degrees in psychology and behavior analysis. 

How can people help you make that happen? 

The most impactful way that people can continue to help is to believe in the importance of providing help. I use the word “believe” as I think that it encompasses the motivation for providing help: helping others because, and only because, others need help. 

What is the most important key to success?

The most important key to success is accepting, behaving with, and maintaining a sense of humility. Humility will always keep you grounded in a realization that your success is the result of a collective effort of everyone that you have learned from in your path. Humility ensures that success never stops; one person’s success should be the catalyst to helping other people succeed. 

What is one challenging life experience that taught you something you’ve been able to use to your benefit or to the benefit of others?

Following my undergraduate graduation, I applied to nearly a dozen graduate schools. Every application I submitted was rejected and I struggled with purpose and direction. Just prior to graduating, a professor came across my application in a discard pile. He decided to give me a chance and extend an offer to attend graduate school. At one of the most challenging times in my life, someone decided to take a chance on me. It was from this experience that I learned about the power of giving people a chance. 

What quote or saying inspires you? 

Et lux in tenebris lucet – and the light shineth in the darkness.” – Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning (1946, 1959)


pro bono Behavior Analysis Clinic at Briar Cliff University (therapy, consultation, parent /staff training)

Association for Behavior Analysis International

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