Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often face unique emotional and behavioral challenges, from difficulties with social interaction and communication to dealing with anxiety and depression. Mental health counseling can play a significant role in supporting their overall well-being [1].  

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in particular has shown promising results in helping children with ASD manage their emotions and reduce problematic behaviors. By teaching children skills to identify and change distressing thought patterns, CBT can effectively mitigate anxiety and improve emotional regulation [2]. 

Another beneficial approach is play therapy, where therapists use play as a medium for children to express their feelings and learn social skills. Through play therapy, children with autism can explore their emotions in a safe environment and learn effective coping strategies [3]. There may be other research-supported therapies such as narrative therapy that help your autistic child and family enhance their well-being.

A family attending a mental health counseling session.

Mental Health Counseling for Caregivers 

Caring for a child with autism can bring immense joy and fulfillment, but it also presents unique stressors. As such, mental health counseling for caregivers, including parents, extended family members, or other primary caregivers, is an essential part of comprehensive autism care [4]. 

Counseling can provide caregivers with a safe space to express their emotions and cope with stress, anxiety, and possible feelings of isolation. It can also offer practical strategies to enhance their caregiving skills and address specific challenges, such as managing behaviors [5]. 

In-person and online support groups also provide benefits for caregivers. These groups provide a sense of community and shared understanding, which can help to reduce feelings of isolation and provide practical tips and resources [6]. 

Mental Health Counseling for Siblings 

Growing up with a sibling who has autism can be a richly rewarding experience, fostering empathy, patience, and understanding. However, it can also pose unique challenges and emotions for siblings, including feelings of resentment, embarrassment, or neglect. 

For these reasons, mental health counseling can provide a supportive environment where siblings can express their feelings without fear of judgment or misunderstanding [7]. There may also be distinct emotional or mental health needs a sibling can address in counseling such as anxiety or major life transitions.

Siblings can also benefit from support groups specifically designed for them, allowing them to connect with others who share similar experiences and challenges [8].  

Counseling at Cortica 

As part of our unique and comprehensive care model, Cortica offers mental health counseling for all members of the family via telehealth. Through our mental health counseling program, families have access to compassionate and research-supported care from our licensed professional clinical counselors, social workers, and marriage and family therapists who have expertise working with people with neurodevelopmental differences and their families. Our counselors work with you to address your family’s unique needs. They may also refer families to additional resources outside of Cortica, such as community mental health providers, parent advocacy groups, and other support groups.  

Learn more about our counseling services here.   


  1. Moree, B. N., & Davis, T. E. (2010). Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety in Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Modification Trends. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 4(3), 346-354. 

  2. Reaven, J., Blakeley-Smith, A., Culhane-Shelburne, K., & Hepburn, S. (2012). Group cognitive behavior therapy for children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders and anxiety: a randomized trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53(4), 410-419. 

  3. Josefi, O., & Ryan, V. (2004). Non-directive play therapy for young children with autism: a case study. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 9(4), 533-551. 

  4. Ruiz-Robledillo, N., & Moya-Albiol, L. (2013). Self-reported health and cortisol awakening response in parents of people with Asperger syndrome: The role of trait anger and anxiety, coping and burden. Psychology & Health, 28(11), 1246-1264. 

  5. McConachie, H., & Diggle, T. (2007). Parent implemented early intervention for young children with autism spectrum disorder: a systematic review. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 13(1), 120-129. 

  6. Osborne, L. A., & Reed, P. (2008). Parents' perceptions of communication with professionals during the diagnosis of autism. Autism, 12(3), 309-324. 

  7. Tsai, H. W., Sze, Y. T., & Leung, R. C. (2016). Child’s Autism Severity: Effects on Stress among Siblings. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25(11), 3461-3472. 

  8. Smith, T., Perry, A., & Teagarden, J. (2007). An analysis of autism-related support groups on the internet. Mental Retardation, 45(4), 261-270.[261:AOASGO]2.0.CO;2

Aqila Armstrong
Author: Aqila Armstrong LMFT (License #88808 CA)