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County to Host Training Addressing the Mental Health of Autistic Adults

Published: 3/23/2022

Poughkeepsie … The Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) will host a special training, virtually via Microsoft Teams on Friday, April 8th from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The workshop will be led by psychologist Dr. Valerie Gaus, PhD, who will offer insight on how to formulate and deliver appropriate treatment or support plans and explain how to conceptualize Cognitive Behavior Therapies for adult individuals living on the autism spectrum. Registration is required in advance and is available online at

The day-long workshop’s programming has been designed for an interdisciplinary audience, including mental health and rehab clinicians, educators, administrators, and advanced direct support workers, but the training is open to all who are interested in learning more. This training is part of the County’s continued effort to ThinkDIFFERENTLY, the initiative started in 2015 by County Executive Marc Molinaro, which seeks to change the way individuals, businesses, organizations, and communities relate to their neighbors of all abilities.

County Executive Molinaro said, “Mental health practitioners around the County are increasingly seeing adults in their therapy settings who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), in addition to the anxiety or mood disorder for which they sought treatment. It is important that all providers are aware of how to treat such patients and give them equal care. Dr. Gaus is a great resource regarding treatment of individuals on the spectrum, and I am confident those attending will receive vital information to help them properly treat people of all abilities.”

Topics to be discussed throughout the day include:

  • The variety of ways autism spectrum disorder symptoms can appear in more cognitively able, independent adults;
  • Typical problems seen in adults with ASD who seek a variety of clinical or support services;
  • Considerations in formulating an individualized treatment or support plan for an adult with ASD as well as stress or mental health problem; and
  • Practical applications of Cognitive Behavioral Therapies for clients with ASD, with and without modifications.

Dr. Gaus, a psychotherapist of 28 years, has three published books on working with individuals with autism.  She will lead the workshop and discuss how the definition of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has broadened over the last 20 years, which has contributed to the growing number of diagnosed adults who are bright, verbal and functioning independently in many areas which makes a need for such discussion necessary.  Her presentation will discuss best practices on guidelines and how to formulate and deliver appropriate treatment or support plans for individuals with ASD.

More information about Dutchess County’s efforts to ThinkDIFFERENTLY, as well as ways communities can be more supportive of those of every ability, is available at