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Walk with me: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy with Autistic Adults - June

Event Details
Date: 28 & 29 June 2022
Time: 1.00pm-4.00pm AEST
Venue: Online
CPD hrs: 6 hours
CPD Category: 2 - Skills and Knowledge

Refer to listing

Organiser: AASW


(03) 9320 1000


Registrations are closed

This event is now sold out. Please click here to join the waitlist.

People with autism often struggle with contextual cues and may not understand why others behave the way they do. This inability to predict the correct meaning can lead to a sense of helplessness, anxiety, and the fear of being misunderstood.

Psychologist, Peter Vermeulen, talks about incorporating ‘autism friendly’ approaches when working with people with ASD. This includes helping individuals to “push the context button”; being clear and predictable; and, most importantly, working from an understanding of autism from within.

ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy) also follows this approach. It requires the practitioner to seek to understand the world from the client’s perspective and work together with the client, through relationship, to create a rich, full, and meaningful life.

Many Social Work practitioners will work with an individual on the Spectrum during their practice and it is essential that they have insight and training regarding best practice for working with Autistic adults.

It is vital that Social Workers are able to: connect with, engage, communicate, empower, and work effectively with Autistic individuals, so that they can ensure that Autistic individuals are heard, respected, valued, included, and not made to feel misunderstood and worse off overall.

This two-part interactive workshop will take an evidence-based approach and will offer participants the opportunity to develop strategies for working with Autistic adults using ACT, both individually and with groups in the form of a half-day retreat.

The workshops will incorporate case studies, group discussions, and interactive activities, and will provide further opportunities for self-directed learning and reflection.

Workshop Session 1: Using ACT principles to work individually with Autistic adults

  • Overview of Autism and Context Blindness
  • Benefits of Mindfulness and ACT strategies when working individually with Autistic adults
  • Planning an ACT session
  • Practical application of ACT strategies
  • Developing an ACT crisis action plan

Workshop Session 2: Preparing, facilitating, and evaluating a half-day ACT retreat for groups of Autistic adults

  • Evidence-based benefits of therapeutic group work with Autistic adults
  • Planning a half-day ACT retreat tailored to multiple clients’ needs
  • Identifying ACT strategies suitable for group work with Autistic adults
  • Practical application of ACT strategies with groups
  • Evaluating a half-day ACT retreat using surveys and questionnaires

Who should attend? Evolving and established practitioners who would like to develop evidence-based, practical strategies to better support their Autistic clients.

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

Learning Outcomes

Participants will be able to:

  • Understand context blindness as a key characteristic of Autism
  • Identify the benefits of Mindfulness and ACT strategies for Autistic adults
  • Understand and apply ACT principles when working with Autistic individuals and groups
  • Create a toolbox of ACT strategies for themselves and their clients
  • Plan and evaluate an interactive half-day ACT retreat using appropriate tools and templates


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
28 & 29 June 2022
1.00pm-4.00pm AEST


Members: $440.00 (including GST)
Non-members: $495.00 (including GST)


This event is now sold out. Please click here to join the waitlist.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers