The Psychological Therapies for Children and Young People with an Autism and/or Learning Disability curriculum has been developed as part of the Child and Young People Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme (CYP- IAPT). Both parents and clinicians agree that CYP with Autism and/or Learning Disability often do not receive the psychological help they deserve because those trained in delivering evidence-based therapies feel inadequately trained in adaptations of these to CYP with Autism and/or Learning Disability diagnoses and those with significant experience of working with these groups are insufficiently trained in evidence-based methods of therapy. This curriculum complements existing CYPIAPT curricula in specialist psychological therapies and focuses on ensuring that clinicians and practitioners are familiar with the best evidenced practice for the treatment of children or young people with Autism and/or learning disabilities.  

The Graduate or Postgraduate Diploma comprises of four modules covering the Core CYPIAPT competencies alongside knowledge of Autism, neurodiversity and intellectual disability, assessment and intervention.  

Frequently asked questions

WOULD I BE SUITABLE?

The Graduate or Postgraduate Diploma is a funded role as part of HEEs recruit to train practitioner funding and is open to staff with and without graduate level qualifications. It is intended for practitioners working specifically in the field of Autism and/or learning disabilities, as well as those in the broader CAMHS community who work with CYP with Learning Disability/Autism.  All applicants will need to demonstrate a basic level of clinical competence and experience of having worked with children and families within a mental health setting for two years.  

Entry Requirements  

Students on the programme must meet the following entry requirements: 

  1. A Level 5 or 6 qualification. In some circumstances you may be eligible if you have a Level 4 qualification, in this case you would need to show substantial relevant work experience.
  2. No core profession is required, though training in a mental-health related profession (e.g. psychology, nursing, social-work, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, special needs teaching, psychiatry, other psychotherapy, counselling) would be beneficial. 
  3. Two years’ experience of working within a professional setting concerned with the mental health of children and young people or families, ideally including some experience of learning disabilities or ASD.
  4. Some experience of working with families.  

How does the training work?

For this training you will  complete one day of teaching per week, covering a series of lecture-based teaching sessions and skills based workshops across three modules.  These are supplemented by group supervision sessions during Modules 2 (Assessment) and 3 (Interventions) and 1:1 tutorials.

You will also required to complete a series of assessments (both academic and clinical) and it is expected that study time will be provided to support them in this.

What topics will I be studying?

There are four modules in this training.

Module 1: The CYP IAPT Core module 

This module covers core academic knowledge and clinical skills together with a reflective approach to practice when working alongside children, young people and their families. This module delivers the core knowledge and skills you will need in order to practice effectively as an evidence-based psychological practitioner. Session-by-session measurement and routine outcome monitoring are a fundamental component of this module and of effective practice. The module will also cover the core areas of the CYP IAPT national transformation programme.

Module 2: Core Knowledge and Frameworks 

This module aims to ensure that all participants have an equivalent basic knowledge about the core features of Autism, Learning Disability and associated conditions.  It will cover relevant legislation, medical and social models of disability and practice as well as covering the types of reasonable adjustments required in practice to meet the needs of this group.  To accommodate the range of expertise and specialist knowledge of programme participants, this module will have a smaller number of taught days and will make more use of online learning via Padlets. 

Module 3: ASD/LD Assessments 

The aims of this module are to enhance the quality of diagnosis and evaluation of children who present to CAMHS with autism and/or learning disability, either for the first time to generic CAMHS or to specialist services at Tiers 3 and 4.  It will cover how comorbid disorders present in terms of mental health and neurodevelopmental concerns, as well as the ways in which environmental, family and physical factors may precipitate or perpetuate difficulties. 

Module 4: ASD/LD Interventions 

The aims of this module are to build on Module 2 by providing training in evidence-based interventions, following assessment and/or the collaborative working with other organisations or teams.  This will take account of the long-term nature of ASD/LD and the need for phasing and planning of interventions, so they are efficient and cost-effective.  

Interventions covered will include relationship-based therapy aimed at improving attunement;  adaptions to support working from a cognitive behavioural framework; and support for parents/carers to manage behaviour that challenges.  

The course will also offer an introduction to other interventions including post-diagnostic support models, adapting interventions for co-occurring mental health conditions, environmental management, social skills, sleep difficulties, independence and transition, and speech and language difficulties. 

What clinical work would I complete?

  • Video Interaction Guidance (VIG): ‘an intervention through which a practitioner aims to enhance communication within relationships’ (AVIGuk). The approach can be used to support either parents/carers and / or professionals supporting a child or young person with Autism and/or Learning Disability.  
  • Adapted Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): adapting CBT to improve the effectiveness of and access to this intervention for children and young people with Autism and/or a Learning Disability, experiencing anxiety or depression.
  • Support programmes for parents/carers of a child or young person with Autism and/or Learning Disability displaying behaviour that challenges. 

How is the course assessed?

There will be a range of assessments making up the course, including padlet exercises, essays, recordings of assessments/interventions, case reports and presentations and a final clinical portfolio. 

How do I apply?

You will need to be working in a participating children’s mental health service which is eligible to put trainees forward for this course. 

Where can I find out more?

If you are interested in the course and would like to know more, please email cyp-iapt@exeter.ac.uk.