The Autism Scholars Awards recognize outstanding researchers working to establish novel treatment options and services for children with autism. This year’s recipient of the $20,000 Doctoral Award is Carly Albaum, a PhD student in York University’s Clinical Developmental Psychology program. Focused on better understanding the conditions that lead to positive results in psychotherapy, Albaum’s research describes the parameters that allow mental health interventions to be successful for children on the autism spectrum.
Adding to Ontario’s scope of diagnosis and assessment, along with the quality of its treatment system, the Autism Scholars Awards Program supports innovative ideas with the potential to positively impact the lives of families across Canada. The program is funded by the Council of Ontario Universities to ensure that the province continues to promote cutting-edge scholarship in autism, a condition that, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, affects one in 66 children.
Albaum’s research investigates the impact of different components of psychotherapy in the achievement of successful treatment outcomes for children with autism. Centred on improving our understanding of why certain children benefit from psychological treatment while others do not, her work outlines the standards that allow mental health interventions to be effective for all youth with autism.
Concerned with process elements common to treatments across different types of therapy, Albaum’s research hopes to elucidate exactly who benefits from psychotherapy and why. Interested in the care of those with social and communication difficulties, she examines factors such as the role of parents in supporting youth involvement in therapy sessions, and the relationship between client and therapist to enhance the mental health of children on the autism spectrum who are often unable to fully engage in psychological interventions.
Providing new insight into how processual components are related to specific treatment results, Albaum’s work translates theoretical knowledge into more effective practices and services. Helping to inform mental health-care providers of the most compelling therapeutic methods, she aims to ensure that all youth with autism, along with their families, can benefit from psychotherapy.
Albaum received both her bachelor of arts with specialized honours and her master of arts from York. Her undergraduate thesis focused on expressed emotion in parents of children with autism, while her master’s project examined therapeutic alliance in cognitive behaviour therapy for children on the autism spectrum. Her interest in positive psychology aided the completion of her clinical training at the Toronto District School Board and at Mackenzie Health’s Shaw Clinic, Child and Family Services. She continues to be actively involved in advancing the mental health of her community as well as the standards of scholarly excellence in the field of autism research.