Dr. Garner graduated in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and started working as a therapeutic support staff (TSS) in Williamsport and State College, PA. In this position, she was trained by consultants from the Autism department from Rutgers University to conduct Lovaas Therapy-DTT for children with Autism. She independently continued her education in applied behavior analysis by reading additional books and texts by Lovaas and other ABA related material and attending workshops. As her knowledge and skill set increased, she was promoted to staff trainer within companies, while continuing to provide 1:1 ABA therapy to clients.
Recognizing this was a path she wanted to follow, Dr. Garner pursued her master’s degree in applied Behavior Analysis from Penn State Harrisburg and graduated in 2003. At Penn State Harrisburg, she received supervision for her ABA field work from Dr. Richard Foxx. In fall of 2003, she sat for the BACB exam www.bacb.com (passed) and was hired by the Verbal Behavior Project to provide BCBA consultation to classrooms and districts across the state of PA. She quickly moved into a Lead BCBA position to train new BCBAs, teachers and developed training for the project. While working for the VB Project, Dr. Garner received extensive training in ABA, Verbal Behavior Methodologies, and behavior management by world wide experts such as Dr. Mark Sundberg and Dr. Vincent Carbone. She spent weekends with the project at the Carbone Clinic learning verbal behavior and behavior modification, cutting edge workshops by Dr. Sundberg on Verbal Behavior and interventions, and many more skills and techniques that helped modify her approach towards the use of ABA for children with ASD.
From 2002 to 2012, she provided several services locally, from consultant to psychological associate to program director. As consultant, Dr. Garner completed functional behavior assessments, created individualized treatment plans, trained therapists, and worked with parents of children with autism. In the psychological associate position, she engaged in diagnostic evaluations under a licensed psychologist. In the Program Director position of a local therapeutic company, Dr. Garner supervised and oversaw several employees and managed the department. Also, during this time, she instructed at the university level. Dr. Garner was an adjunct professor with Arcadia University, instructing two courses: 1) Disabilities and Special Education Law; and 2) Applied Behavior Analysis and Child Development. She filled in at Lycoming College when a fellow professor/friend was out for a semester on leave and instructed 1) Introduction to Special Education; 2) Curriculum and Assessment; and 3) Reading for Special Populations. Finally, at Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Garner provided instruction as a Supervisor to Pre-Service Teachers, and ABA Practicum. It was also during this time that she returned to school to obtain her PhD in Special Education, graduating in 2011 with her PhD and moving into a full time Assistant Professor position with PSU. While at PSU, Dr. Garner was advised by Dr. Richard Kubina, precision teaching expert (https://centralreach.com/about/leadership/dr-rick-kubina/)
Between 2011 and 2021, Dr. Garner was a professor at Pennsylvania State University as well as providing clinical direction for BCBA’s within Aptitude Habilitation Service as the Clinical Director of Behavior Analysis. During this time, she continued to provide private consultation services and professional supervision across the United States and Internationally. For PSU, Dr. Garner developed and instructed two courses, 1) ABA Practicum and 2) Ethics and Applied Behavior Analysis. She provided ABA Practicum Coordination for incoming students studying to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts. She also taught Communication and Autism, and Assessment of Behavior. Between 2017 and 2018, Dr. Garner also served as the interim VCS coordinator for Multicultural Alliance of Behavior Analysts, coordinating an online ABA program for international students. She also spent five years consulting with Fairbanks School District and Kodiak School District, traveling to Alaska every 1-2 months to provide onsite consultation and staff training.
Her company, Garner Behavior Services, has been alive from 2005 to the present, but has taken different shapes over the years. Initially GBS involved private consulting, private training and workshops within the United States and internationally for professionals and BACB applicants, as well as supervision for BACB applicants. Dr. Garner developed clinics in the Philippines and in Ocean City, MD for children with Autism, and trained the staff to provide therapy at these clinics, as well as provided assessment and parent training while on site.
GBS Therapy and Resource Centers opened in 2017, just before the pandemic, starting with 3 staff (including Dr. Garner) and 3 clients. Today, in 2023, GBS has two centers, one in Lewisburg and one in Williamsport, and approximately 20 employees.
While Dr. Garner devotes most of her time to the Centers, she continues to be involved in community service events and various activities. GBS employees provide childcare for SASSY, the local Williamsport parent support group. GBS Lewisburg will be hosting parent support groups at the center this fall. Summer 2023, GBS Williamsport will be having a social skills program for older children. GBS participants in community events, such as the Autism Educational Event, parades (Mummer’s parade), First Friday, and various other events.
Dr. Garner has a long, active training history. She has presented at the following: ABAI in Paris, France; Forward March Conference, NC; Multicultural Alliance of Behavior Analysts Webinar; International Precision Teaching Conference; Rowan University, NJ; North Star School District, Alaska; SCHI School, NJ; Guest lecturer for Penn College of Technology; Guest lecturer for Lycoming College; Guest lecturer for Bucknell University; Pathway School, Norristown, PA; CASA Williamsport, PA; Blair County Week of the Young Child Conference, Johnstown, PA; PA Verbal Behavior Project Workshops provided throughout the state of PA, just to name a few as this is not an exhaustive list.
Dr. Garner loves working with children with Autism, their families, and the professionals who work with this population. Her passion has been to help more professionals understand Applied Behavior Analysis to improve their instructional skills for the benefit of children with autism. She hopes some day to expand into a third center, but due to wanting to be present at the centers weekly, and maintain the “family” feel between the employees, and the high level of quality therapy that is provided, GBS will always remain small and focused.
Dr. Garner and GBS consultants are currently taking courses by Dr. Mary Barbera and learning the Turn Autism Around ® approach to assessment and intervention. GBS employees will be the only consultants in the area with TAA Coaching Training when this training is complete. We are very excited to be in this training with Dr. Barbera!!
I have learned so much over the years.. I wish I could go back to my younger self and re-teach myself on how to work with children in a gentler, more effective way. But like all sciences, ABA grew and changed over the years. The approach used 30 years ago is not the approach today. Today, at our Centers, we focus on play, high levels of reinforcement, functional communication, interactive social skills, and making sure the children enjoy learning. When I walk through the Centers and see the children run into them in the morning when they arrive, or say “I don’t want to leave!” at the end of the day, or go happily to their learning tables, when I hear them laughing, playing and learning… I know we are doing something right. This is not the ABA of 30 yrs ago, when I didn’t understand fully the power of reinforcement and antecedent manipulations. Today, things are different. The field is different. It is exciting to see the children’s progress daily, weekly, monthly… I’m so proud of these children and our staff. I’m still learning as well.. I’m always trying to be better, so I can do better for our littles with ASD and their families. It has been a wonderful journey, and we have so much further to go!!
Dr. Dana Garner, BCBA-D, LBS, Autism Specialist
owner and director of Garner Behavior Services