Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. Clinical Psychology




College of Science & Mathematics


Christina Simmons, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Committee Member 1

Steven Brunwasser, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2

Katherine Gotham, Ph.D.

Committee Member 3

Bethany Raiff, Ph.D., BCBA-D


ACT, autism, parents, virtual, telehealth, ASD


Parents of autistic children--Mental health services; Autistic children--Behavior modification


Clinical Psychology


Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience higher rates of anxiety, depression, and poor overall well-being, particularly when their child also engages in challenging behavior (e.g., self-injury, aggression, property destruction). Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), which encourages psychological flexibility and attending to the present moment, is particularly suited for this population because parents of children with ASD experience high stress levels and difficulty with adaptive coping. The aim of the current study is to examine the feasibility and acceptability of implementing virtual ACT groups with parents of children with ASD and co-occurring challenging behavior. Participants attended an in-person intake interview, six virtual ACT group sessions, and two individualized parent training sessions to learn behavior management techniques and to practice implementing behavioral intervention when faced with treatment challenges. Participants included 10 parents across three different groups; however, only 6 completed all post-study measures. Results demonstrate that there was an increase in psychological flexibility over the course of the study and that participants perceived the groups and the treatment challenge to be highly acceptable. However, the high attrition rate suggests that participating in six virtual group sessions may not be feasible for parents of children with ASD and challenging behavior.