The History and Evolution of Behavioral Approaches
and Positive Behavioral Interventions
Early Work History in Northern Virginia
Derrick Dufresne: I began my career in the field 38 years ago, in January of 1974, working in a locked ward at a place called the Northern Virginia Training Center in Fairfax, Virginia. And I knew nothing about what I was doing at the time, was looking for a job, and I should have known that something was up when I never got to see the unit I was going to be working on, number one, and number two, they called it the "You'll See" building. I kept saying, "Well, what are we going to be doing?" And they'd say "You'll see." "Who lives there?" "You'll see."
And it wasn't until I got there that I found out that this locked unit was the unit that they sent people to usually not from the community but from other places in the institution where people had "bombed out," couldn't be handled or whatever.
Well, they sent them to Building Four. And I want you to picture a group of young people—I was 22 at the time—that we were also locked in. Literally, this was a totally locked unit. And the behaviors that people exhibited was unlike really anything I had ever seen before, with people doing everything from throwing to hitting to spitting to flinging feces. I mean just some unbelievable things.
And they didn't cover some of this in training. They missed like some things about what we were going to see. And they also didn't really tell us an awful lot about what we were supposed to do positively. But they did mention reinforcers. And at that time, reinforcers were a really big deal.