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Digital Recording

Adults with High-Functioning Autism and Comorbid Mental Disorders: Motivational Interviewing Tools and Techniques to Enhance the Treatment of Anxiety and Depression

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Sean Inderbitzen, DSW, LCSW, MINT
6 Hours 07 Minutes
Audio and Video
Jun 21, 2021
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Digital Recording
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Rates of Autism disorder diagnoses have exploded in the last 2 decades. Along with others on the spectrum, high-functioning individuals are at a vastly elevated risk for experiencing anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.

But when these clients come to your office, the lack of intrinsic motivation, difficulty identifying emotions, and resistance to change found in so many individuals on the spectrum can leave you feeling frustrated, ineffective and perpetually stuck at square one in therapy.

How can you ensure you’re prepared to work with this growing population and overcome the treatment obstacles that can impede the therapy they desperately

Sean Inderbitzen, is an advanced practice social worker and MINT trainer who is also on the autism spectrum. Watch him for a critical one-day training on how you can use Motivational Interviewing to help clients with HFA more fully engage in treatment and find the drive they need to improve their lives!

Full of insights on how MI can be used most effectively from the perspective of both a clinician and a person with autism, Sean will show you:

  • How to identify symptoms of anxiety and depression that can differ in adults with ASD
  • Ways to overcome black and white thinking patterns that can stall therapy
  • Strategies to address ruminations and build emotional vocabulary
  • Techniques that help clients on the spectrum identify reasons for change and build motivation for treatment
  • Exercises to keep the momentum of the conversation toward change in depression and anxiety treatment

Whether you already work with HFA clients, or want to ensure you’re prepared to, this program will give you the tools you need to achieve more positive outcomes for HFA clients!

Purchase today!



This online program is worth 6.25 hours CPD.



Sean Inderbitzen, DSW, LCSW, MINT's Profile

Sean Inderbitzen, DSW, LCSW, MINT Related seminars and products

Sean Inderbitzen, DSW, LCSW, MINT, has lived 32 years with autism spectrum disorder and is an active clinical social worker within a community health center specializing in the treatment of Autism and co-occurring trauma. He graduated from Tulane School of Social Work in spring of 2023 and was awarded $40,000 by Mayo Clinic to investigate the impacts of increased pediatrician confidence on access to patients suspected of autism spectrum disorder in rural medical settings.

Additionally, Dr. Inderbitzen’s research team (Katie Diebold, LMSW and colleagues) are studying the effectiveness of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy on children with PTSD and Autism Spectrum Disorder, in consultation with Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, and under the guidance of Dr. Bonnie Goldstein. In addition to research, he maintains an active practice in a community mental health center working with persons on the Autism Spectrum. Dr. Inderbitzen is mentored by such innovators as Dr. Stephen Porges and consults with organizations on autism spectrum disorder and Motivational Interviewing. He is an active member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers, and his writings can be found regularly featured on, and has a forthcoming book from W.W. Norton, called Autism in Polyvagal Terms.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Sean Inderbitzen has employment relationships with Northlakes Community Clinic and Inderbitzen Consulting Services, LLC. He receives royalties as a published author. Sean Inderbitzen receives grants from Mayo Clinic Health Systems. He receives a speaking honorarium and recording royalties from PESI, Inc. He has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Sean Inderbitzen has a professional relationship with Dr. Stephen Porges.


  1. Investigate research on the impact of using person-centered strategies with ASD patients.
  2. Analyze how symptoms of anxiety and depression can present in adults with ASD.
  3. Apply strategies to help clients with difficulties recognizing emotions develop a more complete spectrum of emotions.
  4. Investigate the relationship between pragmatic language skills, motivation and depressive symptoms.
  5. Employ MI exercises to help clients recognize polarized thoughts and increase doubt in black and white thinking patterns that can impede treatment.
  6. Prepare treatment plans that include MI strategies to help clients identify reasons for change and build motivation for treatment.


Resistance to Change in Adults with High-Functioning Autism

  • How is High Functioning Autism defined?
  • Executive functioning deficits and ways to measure
  • Matching developmental freedom and personal autonomy
  • Research on person-centred strategies with ASD patients
  • Feedback informed treatment and the Spirit of Motivational Interviewing

The Core Skills of MI:
Person-Centred Strategies and Skills to Stimulate Change

  • Improve rapport by recognizing autonomy
  • Review of OARS
  • Evoke confidence in clients to try social experiments
  • How to decrease sustain talk in clients who don’t think they can change
  • Strategies to cultivate change talk for motivation

Black and White Thinking Patterns in Adults with HFA:
MI Solutions to Overcome One of the Biggest Treatment Roadblocks

  • HFA clients and difficultly recognizing emotion in themselves and others
  • Integrate somatic experience as a core organizer for emotional experience
  • Tools to develop a spectrum experience of emotions
  • How to address binary-based ruminations through building vocabulary
  • Exercises to help clients recognize polarized thoughts
  • CBT visualization adaptations to connect with concrete thinking patterns
  • Use discord to increase doubt in black and white thinking patterns

Depressive Symptoms in Adults with ASD:
Improve Treatment Response with MI Strategies

  • How symptoms in adults with ASD present
  • Features in adults with ASD that affect how they think
  • The relationship between pragmatic language skills, motivation and depressive symptoms
  • MI strategies to help clients identify reasons for change and build motivation for treatment
  • MI interventions for responding to change talk for depressive behaviours

Integrate MI into Anxiety Treatment:
Techniques for Enhanced Engagement in Adult Clients with HFA

  • Adult presentations of anxiety and HFA
  • Building rapport with anxious HFA clients
  • Sustain talk and ruminations in HFA clients – examples
  • MI interventions that help clients work with and overcome sustain talk
  • Out of the woods exercise to keep the momentum of the conversation toward change
  • MI research and treatment risks and limitations

Target Audience

  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Case Managers
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Therapists
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Other Mental Health Professionals


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