Counseling for Children and Families with Autism

The Cortica Care Model

Having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental differences affects the whole family. Mental Health counseling can be an important part of your family’s journey with autism treatment. We believe in supporting every family member. Our counselors will partner with you to improve emotional, relational, and internal well-being for your child and your family.
Counseling for Children and Families with Autism

What is counseling for children and families with autism?

Through our mental health counseling program, your child and any member of your family can receive neurodivergent counseling and therapy services and care coordination from our licensed Professional Clinical Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage Family Therapists who have expertise working with individuals with developmental differences and their families. In addition to working directly with your family, our counselors can connect you to resources outside of Cortica, such as community mental health providers, parent advocacy groups, and other family support groups. Services are available for the whole family, including children, adolescents, adults, siblings, parents, other caregivers, or couples. 

What is the goal of counseling for children and families with autism?

The main goal of our counseling program is to help families feel ready and prepared for the journey ahead and to provide support in planning for the future. Our counselors focus on building skills and abilities in children and family members to promote growth and well-being. We are committed to understanding neurodiversity and empowering children and their families to reach their greatest potential. We engage all members of the family to build self-confidence, self-reflection, and mindfulness skills. These goals can be addressed in different sessions, including individual, family, or group sessions.  

Specific areas of support for family members and caregivers: 

  • Helping family members develop a fuller understanding of their child’s diagnosis 

  • Talking to your child or others about the diagnosis 

  • Making changes in the home to support well-being (e.g., sleep, nutrition, and regulation)  

  • Helping parents advocate for their child in all settings  

  • Navigating feelings of sadness, anxiety, and isolation 

 Specific areas of support for children: 

  • Relating to others and developing deeper relationships 

  • Adjusting to change and new settings 

  • Growing up and developing skills for self-understanding and self-advocacy 

  • Problem-solving skills 

  • Coping with stress, anxiety, sadness, or loneliness 

  • Developing a healthy self-concept 

Who can participate in counseling at Cortica?

Any family member with a mental health concern can be enrolled as a counseling patient at Cortica. Some examples include: 

  • Any child diagnosed with anxiety, depression, OCD, and ADHD 

  • Any child, caregiver, or caregiver pair who is having difficulty navigating the stress in their daily lives 

  • A child with a neurodevelopmental difference who experiences some school troubles, which may cause nervous feelings 

  • A parent who is feeling overwhelmed and unsure of their own parenting abilities 

  • A caregiver pair who is navigating the stress of a diagnosis in their relationship 

  • A caregiver pair who is experiencing marital issues 

  • An outlet for siblings who need a safe space to talk or share emotions  

Family Health & Wellness: Importance of Mental Health

Whether it is handling stress, relating to others, or making decisions, mental health is important for you and your whole family. What does mental health mean? At Cortica, we define mental health as emotional, relational, and internal well-being. 

Emotional well-being means:

  • Knowing it’s ok to have all types of feelings 

  • Being able to connect to emotional sensations without significant resistance 

  • Having the foundation to develop relationships and connect with others 

 Relational well-being means:

  • The ability to get along with others and effectively share space with others 

  • Feeling connected to others 

 Internal well-being means:

  • Health in one’s physiological processes, including how the central nervous system functions 

  • Healthy patterns of sleep and nutrition 

  • Healthy ways of internalizing our interactions with others (what we hear and experience from interactions with others) 

  • Healthy ways of understanding expectations that we have of ourselves and that we feel others may have of us 

The Benefits of Therapy: Counseling for Neurodivergent Children & their Families

Individuals, including children, with neurodevelopmental differences such as autism, can experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns. The support provided through counseling can help to lessen these symptoms and can create opportunities to build skills for cultivating mental well-being. Families supported by a licensed mental health professional experienced lower levels of stress, increased harmony in the home, and greater confidence in their ability to support their child’s growth. 

First Counseling Therapy Session: What to Expect as You Begin

The first meeting with your counselor is an evaluation to better understand your goals and priorities, to co-develop goals, and to review guidelines and regulations. Your counselor will recommend the type of therapy needed after your initial evaluation. Generally, the first few sessions are focused on building a strong and trusting relationship. Depending on individual circumstances, counseling might take place for a shorter period (weeks to months) or a longer period (months to years). If your child is the one participating in the counseling, your counselor may also suggest other resources that may aid in your child’s development.  Learn more about Cortica’s services and therapies

Cortica offers the following counseling services as clinically indicated: 

  • Counseling for children with autism 

  • Counseling for siblings 

  • Counseling for caregivers 

A mother and child looking at a laptop.

What happens in a counseling therapy session?

 Counseling for autism and other developmental differences can unfold in a variety of ways that are dependent on a client’s age, interests, language level, and who is taking part, (for example, if parents or other family members take part). For example, counseling activities for autistic children and their family members can include: 

  • Play 

  • Art 

  • Talk/Conversation 

  • Activities/Games 

Our counselors are trained in a variety of research-supported strategies and techniques to support engagement, even if there are language or attention challenges. At Cortica, counseling is delivered via telehealth. Telehealth counseling has many of the features (as well as its own benefits) of in-person counseling but happens remotely through a computer, tablet, or smartphone, and makes it more accessible for families in need. 

A general goal of counseling is to provide you with a safe space, free of judgment, to share your thoughts and feelings with a caring professional. In your counseling session, you can also feel comfortable sharing concerns, working through emotions, and asking questions. 

How to prepare for your counseling appointment

Before your first counseling session, it is important to speak with all participating family members to establish boundaries and set mutual goals. Of course, these conversations will depend on the age and skill level of each family member involved. Being as transparent as possible before your first counseling session will help set you, your partner, or your child on the right path. 

Will my insurance cover counseling services?

Does your insurance cover the therapy you are looking for? At Cortica, we work with a wide range of health insurance plans. We can provide you with a benefits check and cost estimate before beginning services with Cortica. Please reach out to us for information about your specific insurance coverage. We also offer self-pay options for those who may not have an in-network insurance plan. 

How can I get started with counseling services?

Contact us at or call your local location to be scheduled with a mental health counselor. Our counseling sessions are 60 minutes via telehealth and are generally billed to the insurance plan of the person who is the focus of therapy (child, sibling, parent, etc.). The more flexible your schedule, the sooner sessions can begin.