Susan G. Friedman, PhD, began her career in psychology nearly 30 years ago at a residential treatment center where she counseled adolescents with severe behavior problems and taught social interaction skills. It was there that she first discovered the relevance of Applied Behavior Analysis for helping children learn to use their personal power in productive ways. Later, as Coordinator of Training for the center’s school and autistic unit Susan developed her commitment to training parents and teachers to effectively use positive behavioral strategies to instruct and influence children.
In 1985, she left the treatment center to earn her doctorate in Special Education at Utah State University, where she specialized in educational/psychological research methods. After completing her doctorate, she joined the faculty in the Department of Bilingual Special Education at the University of Colorado for two years. She then served as the first Director of the American School in Lesotho, Southern Africa where she lived for five years with her husband and two daughters.
Currently, Susan is a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Utah State University. In the last decade, Susan has helped pioneer efforts to apply to animals the humane philosophy and scientifically sound teaching technology from the field of Applied Behavior Analysis, which has been so effective with human learners. The guiding principle of this approach is a hierarchy of teaching interventions starting with the most positive, least intrusive, effective behavior solutions.
Susan is a steadfast proponent of changing behavior through facilitation rather than force. These tools of facilitation focus on animals’ extraordinary biologic capacity to learn by interacting with their environment. She teaches that by changing the environment for success, animals learn to behave successfully. Susan currently teaches Living and Learning with Parrots: The Fundamental Principles of Behavior to online and workshop students, veterinarians and animal professionals several times a year and is the first author on two chapters on learning and behavior for two avian veterinary texts (G. Harrison’s Avian Veterinary Compendium and A. Luescher’s Manual Parrot Behavior). She is a core member of the California Condor Recovery Team and takes every opportunity to work with companion animal caregivers, veterinarians, animal trainers and zookeepers to empower and enrich the lives of all learners. Foremost in this interdisciplinary effort is her passion for and commitment to working with companion parrots and their caregivers.