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Walk with me: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy with Autistic Adults (an individual and group approach)

Event Details
Date: 30 & 31 August 2022
Time: 10:00am - 1:00pm AEST
Venue: Online
CPD hrs: 6 hours
CPD Category: 2 - Skills and Knowledge

Refer to listing

Organiser: AASW


(03) 9320 1000


Social workers will no doubt work with many diagnosed, misdiagnosed, and undiagnosed Autistic clients throughout their careers. Therefore, it is imperative that practitioners know how to connect, engage, communicate, empower, and work effectively with Autistic people so that they feel heard, respected, valued, and included.

Traditionally, interventions have been developed by neurotypical people with the aim to normalise or “fix” Autistic individuals. As social workers, our therapeutic work begins by accepting and celebrating the unique identities and perspectives of Autistic people, by focusing on their strengths and values, and by exploring who they are with them with curiosity and excitement.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) offers itself up as an ideal model to help achieve these goals, as ACT requires the practitioner to understand the world from the client’s perspective and see the client as the expert in their life. ACT views the therapeutic relationship as essential to helping the client work towards change and a values-based life. ACT aims to help clients to thrive, not just survive.

This two-part interactive workshop will take an evidence-based approach to working with Autistic adults, both individually and within groups. It will offer participants a unique insight into how Autistic people experience the world around them and will provide participants with the opportunity to understand how to build an ACT approach into their work.

Part of this will include examples of ACT strategies and exercises. These can be applied both personally and professionally, as ACT is an experiential model. These workshops will be facilitated by accredited social workers, experienced in using ACT with Autistic individuals and groups, and will incorporate case studies, several interactive activities, and group discussions.

Who should attend? Emerging and evolving practitioners who have some prior experience working with Autistic adults and/or ACT who would like to develop more effective strategies to support their Autistic clients individually and in group settings.

Note: If you would like to learn more about working with Autistic people before the event, feel free to check out the webinar recording for Understanding, connecting, and supporting individuals on the Autism Spectrum presented by Johanna Malcolm.

6 hours of CPD activity: Category 2, skills and knowledge
AASW Credentials: Disability; Mental Health (FPS)

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Understand the unique way in which Autistic people experience the world
  • Define the different areas of psychological flexibility
  • Identify the benefits of using ACT with Autistic adults individually and in groups
  • Experience the effects of a simple ACT exercise as both the client and practitioner through role-play
  • Develop an understanding of how ACT strategies/exercises function, and start to create your own ACT toolbox that can be adapted and applied within the context of individual and group work
  • Plan and evaluate a group session for Autistic adults using appropriate ACT tools and templates

Pre-training activities

In the lead up to the event, participants will be provided with:

  • Copies of the slideshow presentations
  • Case Study videos and transcripts
  • Workbook


Johanna Malcolm

Johanna Malcolm is a neurodiverse AASW accredited social worker and has been an NDIS support coordinator for the last 8 years. She has been navigating the NDIS since its inception and has three children and a partner on the spectrum. She is passionate about empowering people to take control of their own lives whilst being there to walk alongside them and share their journey.

Johanna’s commitment as a social worker is to the empowerment of individuals, families, groups, and communities. She has experience working with adults and children on the Autism spectrum, coordinating social skills groups for adults and children with ASD, and facilitating support groups.

Johanna is a Social Work educator and field supervisor at both the University of Tasmania and Flinders University. She currently runs day retreats for carers, professionals, and adults on the Spectrum to take time out to explore their values, learn self-compassion and gain ACT skills which they can use in their daily life.

Toni Hanna

Toni Hanna is an Accredited Mental health and Clinical social worker based in rural SA. Her practice is The Sisterhood for Wellbeing – a feminist and intersectional practice for women and children. She has been a social worker since 1995 and has worked in challenging and diverse settings – building a wide knowledge base and skill set. She has been using ACT since 2009 and is experienced in delivering services to clients struggling with anxiety, depression, and trauma among other issues.

Toni is a founding member of the ACT Guidelines and has also been an active member of the Action and Advocacy committee for Australia and New Zealand Association for Contextual Behavioral Science – promoting both the role of social work and issues of social justice.

Toni has a passion for working with neurodivergent clients of all ages and has established a neuro-affirming group The Acceptance Project. This ACT based group is grounded in theories such as double empathy and context blindness – and is now into its 3rd year providing support and acceptance to its participants.

Toni is the mother of 2 teens, one of who is neurodivergent and gender diverse - the most wonderful teachers, although she does spend a lot of her spare time trying to understand Gen Z memes.

Location and date

Live online: a Zoom link will be emailed to you prior to the workshop
30 & 31 August 2022
10:00am - 1:00pm AEST


Members: $440.00 (including GST)

Non-members: $495.00 (including GST)


To receive member prices please login to the member centre before proceeding with your purchase.

Click submit on the right-hand side of this page to register.

*Please note, registrations close 30 August 2022 at 8:30am

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers