Individual therapy

We offer individual therapy to children 7 years old and up, adolescents, and adults of all ages, as well as their parents, their partners, their siblings and their children.

Who we treat

Pre-adolescents & adolescents

The years before and during puberty can be a challenging time for anyone. This time is characterized by the push and pull between dependence and independence, complex social situations and pressures, and increased self-awareness (which sometimes means awareness of differences). Autistic youth are at particular risk for developing anxiety and depression around this time. These symptoms are common, especially as children get older. Some signs of depression might include irritability, increased desire to be alone, no longer enjoying things that were previously enjoyable, changes in eating or sleeping patterns, or other significant changes in behavior. Symptoms of anxiety may include increased avoidance of certain situations, inflexibility, physical signs (e.g., stomach aches, headaches), increased focus on certain topics or fears, increase in repetitive behaviors, or even emotional reactions (tantrums, aggression). Various behavioral treatments (therapy) can be very successful in improving symptoms related to anxiety and depression. Often, other symptoms related to ASD, including social interaction, also seem to improve when anxiety and depression improve.

Young adults

Some autistic adults have benefited from intervention for many years, while others are learning about their diagnosis for the first time. As they transition to more independence after high school and beyond, many autistic adults experience a decrease in structured supports (e.g., school interventions) combined with greater expectations for independence. This period of life can be stressful for anyone, given the new choices and responsibilities that come along with it. For an autistic person, this may be complicated by increased awareness of their differences from others, feeling like they are missing out on what their peers are doing, and/or increased stress of navigating college, work, or home life. Autistic adults are also at risk for depression and anxiety given these factors; in fact, Dr. Sterling’s research has shown us that there are very high rates of these ‘comorbid’ conditions among autistic adults. Individual therapy and support for the family can be helpful in providing a ‘bridge’ toward the next phase or important strategies for managing the current phase.

Adults

In addition to the issues that may come up in early adulthood, some adults seek support because they have been wondering if autism fits for them. Perhaps they have always felt a bit different from peers, misunderstood, or exhausted by social interactions, and identify as neurodivergent. Some adults are looking to explore what their autism diagnosis means. For others, this is a time in their life when they want to increase communication with a partner or strengthen relationships, or to seek guidance with respect to their work environment or career.
Young adult in therapy session
Man smiling with doctor
Couple speaking with therapist

What to know about therapy at SIA

  • Depending on what fits best for you, we sometimes work with families, siblings, and partners together in couples or group therapy.
  • Therapy sessions are typically 50 minutes long, once per week, unless other arrangements are made between you and your therapist.
  • We offer a mix of telehealth and in-person sessions in our Long Beach office, depending on the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic and the arrangements made between you and your therapist.
  • Treatment is individualized, meaning that the specific components and targets of intervention depend on the specific child, teen, adult or family.
  • Treatment is collaborative. Your treatment goals are our treatment goals and we work together to meet these goals.
  • Before beginning treatment, a thorough intake evaluation is completed to ensure that the concerns of the parents and child or teen are identified and prioritize.
  • Each of our clinicians have expertise with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and utilize a variety of additional evidence-based strategies and treatment modalities to target concerns around social skills, daily living skills, stress, anxiety, depression, career growth, life transitions and family relationships. We find that as symptoms related to stress, anxiety, and depression improve with treatment, individuals often become more confident, more open to trying and enjoying new experiences, and take on more responsibilities related to self-care; in fact, often the core symptoms related to autism improve as these other symptoms are alleviated, leading to better quality of life.
  • Individual psychotherapy is different from applied behavior analysis (ABA) or other interventions that are sometimes associated with autism. At SIA, we use current and evidence-based psychotherapies that are effective to treat psychiatric symptoms; however, the strategies and approaches are modified specifically for working with autistic individuals.
  • Some clients ask if evidence-based interventions like CBT are neurodiversity-affirming. All of our clinicians celebrate neurodiversity and provide intervention in a neurodiversity-affirming context. Evidence-based means there have been clinical trials (research) to show that using CBT decreases the number, intensity, and/or duration of symptoms (e.g., anxiety decreases.) It does not mean it changes what makes a person unique (i.e., their neurodivergence.) Instead, these approaches harness strengths, celebrate differences, and utilize a client’s interests to increase motivation. We work collaboratively to determine the client’s goals, then help them figure out which tools and strategies work best to achieve those goals. Rather than using strict protocols, we modify, or “individualize” interventions for each client. Examples of modifications include going at the client’s pace, using more concrete examples, incorporating the client’s interests, reinforcing a client’s unique strengths, role playing or practicing skills in session, and involving parents in the treatment process.
  • Therapy rates range from $265-350 per 50-minute session.