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Delivering CBT with autistic clients to improve mental health
Delivering CBT with autistic clients to improve mental health
Delivering CBT with autistic clients to improve mental health

Delivering CBT with autistic clients to improve mental health

Dr Valerie Gaus, Dr Lawrence Fung

Professionals: $100.00 CAD +tax
Students: $80.00 CAD +tax


On November 14, 2023, Dr. Valerie Gaus and Dr. Lawrence Fung delivered a half-day workshop on CBT strategies to improve the mental health of clients diagnosed with autism. This on-demand webinar is a recording of that presentation.

Workshop Outline

Autistic people have a higher likelihood than non-autistic people to experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives, especially anxiety or depressive disorders (Lai et al., 2019).  Many will present for treatment of those co-occurring disorders in “mainstream” mental healthcare centers (Maddox et al., 2021; Maddox & Gaus, 2018).  Practitioners who are not autism experts can treat these problems using the same evidence-based CBT approaches they use for their non-autistic clients.  Recognizing some unique factors and adapting techniques where necessary can make effective treatments available to autistic clients across the lifespan and in a variety of settings.


This workshop will consider the most common mental health problems reported by autistic clients, including anxiety and depression. Autistic clients have challenges in accessing mental health services, and the barriers to such access will be reviewed. A clear rationale for using CBT to improve mental health in autistic clients will be provided. The workshop will then present a working model to conceptualize therapy cases and consider the relevant evidence-based CBT approaches for treating anxiety and depression. Case examples will be used throughout to demonstrate applications and modifications for autistic clients.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Recognize the unique needs of autistic clients

  • Understand how to use an individualized case formulation to design a CBT treatment plan

  • Determine when and how modifications to CBT are needed

  • Consider mindfulness-based CBT for building emotion regulation skills

About the Presenter

Dr. Valerie Gaus is a psychologist, licensed by New York State, who has been a practicing psychotherapist since 1994. She specializes in individual psychotherapy for adults of all ages, from 18-98, with extensive experience serving people with disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, anxiety, depression, trauma and stress-related problems. She approaches therapy using a cognitive-behavioral framework. She has written numerous articles, chapters, and books on these subjects, including Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (2019), 2nd Edition, published and Living Well on the Spectrum: How to Use Your Strengths to Meet the Challenges of Asperger Syndrome/High Functioning Autism (2011).

Dr. Lawrence Fung is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He is the director of the Stanford Neurodiversity Project, director of the Neurodiversity Clinic, and principal investigator at the Fung Lab. His work, which focuses on autism and neurodiversity, traverses from multi-modal neuroimaging studies to new conceptualization of neurodiversity and its application to clinical, education, and employment settings. His lab advances the understanding of neural bases of human socio-communicative and cognitive functions by using novel neuroimaging and bioanalytical technologies. Using a community-based participatory research approach, his team devises and implements novel interventions to improve the lives of neurodiverse individuals by maximizing their potential and productivity. His work has been supported by various agencies including the National Institutes of Health, California Department of Developmental Services, California Department of Rehabilitation, as well as philanthropy. He received his PhD in chemical engineering from Cornell University, and MD from George Washington University. He completed his general psychiatry residency, child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship, and postdoctoral research fellowship at Stanford.

Training Modalities

This workshop will include didactic content, case examples, and Q&A.

Who should attend

This workshop is most suitable for practitioners (psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, counsellors) delivering psychotherapy interventions for autistic clients in mental health care settings.

Continuing Education (CE) Credits

Bespoke Mental Health Canada is approved by the Canadian Psychological Association to offer continuing education for psychologists. Bespoke Mental Health Canada maintains responsibility for the program. 
After viewing this workshop, participants have the option to complete an evaluation form and a workshop knowledge quiz in order to be eligible to receive a certificate confirming the number of credits awarded. This certificate will be sent via email.
Participants who complete this workshop will be eligible to receive 2.75 CE credits.


Professionals: $100 CAD +tax
Students*: $80 CAD +tax
* Proof of student status may be required in order to qualify for a student rate.

Key References

Fung, L.K. (2021) Neurodiversity: from Phenomenology to Neurobiology and Enhancing Technologies. American Psychiatric Association Publishing, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Gaus, V. L. (2019). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for adults with autism spectrum disorder. Guilford Publications.

Lai, M. C., Kassee, C., Besney, R., Bonato, S., Hull, L., Mandy, W., & Ameis, S. (2019). Prevalence of co-occurring mental health diagnoses in the autism population: A systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet Psychiatry, 6(10), 819–829.

Maddox, B., Crabbe, S., Fishman, J., Beidas, R., Brookman-Frazee, L., Miller, J., & Mandell, D. (2020). Factors influencing the use of cognitive–behavioral therapy with autistic adults: A survey of community mental health clinicians. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 49(11), 4421–4428.

Maddox, B.B., Dickson, K.S., Stadnick, N.A. et al. (2021). Mental health services for autistic individuals across the lifespan: Recent advances and current gaps. Current Psychiatry Reports, 23(66).

Maddox, B. B., & Gaus, V. L. (2018). Community mental health services for autistic adults: Good news and bad news. Autism in Adulthood, 1.

Spain, D., Milner, V., Mason, D. et al. (2022). Improving Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Autistic Individuals: A Delphi Survey with Practitioners. Journal of Rational-Emotive Cognitive-Behavior Therapy.

Spain, D., Sin, J., Chalder, T., Murphy, D. & Happé, F. (2015). Cognitive behaviour therapy for adults with autism spectrum disorders and psychiatric co-morbidity: A review. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 9, 151-162.

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