Category: Dissemination / Implementation

Symposium

Training Mental Health Therapists: Evidence-Based Mental Health Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Saturday, November 18
3:45 PM - 5:15 PM
Location: Aqua Salon A & B, Level 3, Aqua Level

Keywords: Evidence-Based Practice | Community-Based Assessment / Intervention | Autism Spectrum Disorders
Presentation Type: Symposium

There are urgent calls to address the gap between evidence-based interventions (EBIs) and those delivered in usual care settings.  Research has focused on developing and testing mental health interventions for children ASD served in community mental health services. Therapist factors may be important influences on EBI delivery, yet there are insufficient data regarding their impact (Beidas & Kendall, 2010). To examine the influence of therapist factors on EBI delivery, data were drawn from a large-scale hybrid effectiveness/implementation trial of AIM HI (“An Individualized Mental Health Intervention for ASD”), an intervention to reduce challenging behaviors for youth with ASD.  


Participants were 164 therapists (84.5% female) enrolled with a child participant in the AIM HI training condition. Recordings of 779 psychotherapy sessions in which caregivers were present were coded for the AIM HI session effectiveness and content coverage.  Effectiveness codes include 1) structuring the session for skill-building, 2) pursuing continuity across sessions, 3) pursuing caregiver skill-building, 4) pursuing child skill-building.  Content codes included 1) behavior tracking/functional assessment, 2) antecedent strategies, and 3) consequence-based strategies. Two-level (sessions nested within therapists) mixed models were used to examine the impact of therapist characteristics on observed AIM HI delivery.


Results with effectiveness codes indicate that less clinical experience was associated with greater extensiveness of caregiver skill-building. Results with content codes indicate that Psychology discipline was associated with more extensive addressing of antecedent-based strategies; more clinical experience was associated with more extensive addressing of reinforcement-based strategies; previous EBI experience and higher ASD caseload were associated with more extensive discussion of behavior tracking/functional assessment.   


The results provide support for the influence specific therapist professional characteristics on AIM HI delivery and highlight the potential to individualize therapist training based on professional experience to maximize effective EBI delivery.

Kelsey Dickson

Postdoctoral Scholar
University of California, San Diego

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