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Digital Seminar

Treating Autism and PTSD Comorbid Through a Polyvagal-Informed Lens: A Framework to Inform EMDR and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Interventions in Therapy

Sean Inderbitzen, DSW, LCSW, MINT
1 Hour 30 Minutes
Audio and Video
Apr 22, 2022
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Digital Seminar
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What if treating autism were more like working with trauma and less like learning a foreign language like Behavioral Analysis? That the states in which a person is more or less autistic is governed by where within their window of tolerance they are. Building on the work of Stephen Porges, the developer of Polyvagal theory (PVT), view autism expert Sean Inderbitzen, APSW, MINT, an autistic social worker as he guides you through:

  • Etiology of autism through the lens of a dampened social engagement system
  • Polyvagal Informed Framework of Autism Spectrum Disorder, a hypothesized idea that autism is state specific, not lifelong and enduring
  • How this framework informs modifications for EMDR and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Polyvagal theory gives us a basis to understand autism in a way that is modifiable with greater gains in accessing autistic clients’ window of tolerance... resulting in increased creativity, openness, curiosity, cognitive flexibility, and social engagement!



PESI Australia, in collaboration with PESI in the USA, offers quality online continuing professional development events from the leaders in the field at a standard recognized by professional associations including psychology, social work, occupational therapy, alcohol and drug professionals, counselling and psychotherapy. On completion of the training, a Professional Development Certificate is issued after the individual has answered and submitted a quiz and course evaluation. This program is worth 1.5 hours CPD for points calculation by your association.



Sean Inderbitzen, DSW, LCSW, MINT's Profile

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Sean Inderbitzen, DSW, LCSW, MINT, has lived 32 years with autism spectrum disorder and is an active clinical social worker within a community health center specializing in the treatment of Autism and co-occurring trauma. He graduated from Tulane School of Social Work in spring of 2023 and was awarded $40,000 by Mayo Clinic to investigate the impacts of increased pediatrician confidence on access to patients suspected of autism spectrum disorder in rural medical settings.

Additionally, Dr. Inderbitzen’s research team (Katie Diebhold, LMSW and colleagues) are studying the effectiveness of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy on children with PTSD and Autism Spectrum Disorder, in consultation with Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, and under the guidance of Dr. Bonnie Goldstein. In addition to research, he maintains an active practice in a community mental health center working with persons on the Autism Spectrum. Dr. Inderbitzen is mentored by such innovators as Dr. Stephen Porges and consults with organizations on autism spectrum disorder and Motivational Interviewing. He is an active member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers, and his writings can be found regularly featured on, and has a forthcoming book from W.W. Norton, called Autism in Polyvagal Terms.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Sean Inderbitzen has employment relationships with Northlakes Community Clinic and Inderbitzen Consulting Services, LLC. He receives royalties as a published author. Sean Inderbitzen receives grants from Mayo Clinic Health Systems. He receives a speaking honorarium and recording royalties from PESI, Inc. He has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Sean Inderbitzen has a professional relationship with Dr. Stephen Porges.


  1. Utilize Polyvagal Theory to inform clinical treatment of Autism and comorbid PTSD.
  2. Implement the Polyvagal-Informed Framework of Autism Spectrum Disorder to inform EMDR interventions for autistic clients with PTSD.
  3. Employ the Polyvagal Informed Framework of Autism Spectrum Disorder to inform Sensorimotor Psychotherapy interventions for autistic clients with PTSD.


  • A Polyvagal Model of Autism and PTSD Comorbid: Rethinking Autism
    • Research on the overlap
    • What is the window of tolerance and its relevance to Polyvagal theory?
    • Implications of trauma on Executive Dysfunction
    • Implications on memory storage: Adaptive Information Processing Theory
    • Case study: Autistic child with PTSD and Dissociative Amnesia
  • Polyvagal-Informed Lens to Inform:
    • EMDR Treatment of PTSD in Autism
    • Protocol walk through
    • Adaptations for social stories and tapping
    • Case study: Autistic child with PTSD receiving EMDR
    • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Treatment of PTSD in Autism
    • Modifications for mindful study of the body and mindfulness
  • Case study: Autistic child with PTSD receiving SP
  • Limitations of Research and Potential Risk

Target Audience

  • Addiction Counselors
  • Counselors
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Physicians
  • Psychologists
  • Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Social Workers
  • Teachers/School-Based Personnel
  • Other Mental Health Professionals

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