Shawn McConaghy earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from UW-La Crosse and his Master’s of Science in Psychology from University of Phoenix. He came to Riverfront in 2009 as the agency’s first Behavioral Support Specialist. Shawn provides assessments and develops plans to minimize problem behaviors, and he works closely with a participant’s entire care team to build relationships that help individuals reach their goals.
Shawn’s successful approach helps team members better understand participants-physically, emotionally, and socially-to help develop strong working relationships. He is motivated by helping people aspire to more in life, and by the rewarding relationships he develops with people with disabilities.
While Shawn works primarily out of Riverfront’s La Crosse office, he travels throughout the Riverfront service area when his expertise can help a participant reach his or her goals. Shawn lives in the Coon Valley area with his family, where he enjoys spending free time in his huge garden, raising chickens, hiking, hunting, snowboarding and coaching hockey.
1.Why are you a behavior specialist?
I sometimes wonder if being a behavior specialist chose me or if I chose to do it. It seems that following undergrad all my job experience was steering me to do this. However, it wasn’t until I understood that I had the patience and control to do more of this work that I committed to it. Anyway, my favorite part of what I do is helping people work through their issues to become more successful and independent. We all have learned behaviors, but we don’t all have someone who can identify why we engage in the behavior, what precedes or is the antecedent to our behavior, and help us create an alternative behavior to reduce the undesired thing we do…but that is WHY I love my job. We help people overcome things in their life they no longer desire to have in it.
2.What does success look like?
Success is when our participants can identify that something in their life that is impeding their progress, identify why it happens, has a desire to change, and then takes the steps to make that change because they want to be a better person.
3.What is a behavior specialist to you?
A behavior specialist is someone who is very perceptive of their environment, understands the various challenges that individuals with mental health challenges and intellectual disabilities have, understands that the only way people will change is if they want to, and has the temperament and patience to wait for the family’s and participants to see what guides them to that change at their own pace.