*Use this course for 4 APT non-contact hours under Skills and Methods

While it is common for children to avoid doing things that they’re asked to do from time to time, sometimes there is an extreme level of avoidance and resistance that a child can exhibit any time something is perceived as a demand. Avoidance can take many forms, including escaping into fantasy, making excuses, creating a distraction, intense focus on something else, withdrawing, or having a meltdown or panic attack. 

When a child goes to extremes to avoid perceived demands, caregivers may benefit from further exploring pathological demand avoidance support strategies. Pathological Demand Avoidance, or PDA, is most commonly identified as being a profile of Autism. 

While it is widely recognized in the UK and other countries, therapists in the United States are only now beginning to explore PDA in professional settings. Regardless of what country a play therapist practices in, we are tasked with supporting children with demand-avoidant behaviors, and when these behaviors are extreme it can lead to resistance and frustration in the playroom. 

Through PowerPoint lecture, discussion between the presenters, and video examples this training will explore the core characteristics of PDA and helpful approaches that can be utilized in the playroom to support children with demand-avoidant behavior. Play therapists will leave with an understanding of the R. U. SAFE acronym and strategies that are helpful for all levels of demand-avoidant behavior, even those that do not fully meet the description of PDA.


  1. Following this PowerPoint lecture, attendees be able to identify the DSM-5 criteria as well as 2-3 less familiar characteristics of autism.
  2. Following this PowerPoint lecture, attendees will be able to identify 3-5 core characteristics of Pathological Demand Avoidance.
  3. Following this PowerPoint lecture, attendees will be able to identify the R. U. S.A.F.E. acronym and its application in the play therapy room.
  4. Following this PowerPoint lecture, attendees will be able to identify 3-5 supportive strategies that are helpful in supporting individuals with PDA characteristics in the playroom.

Instructor Katie Bassiri, LPC, RPT-S

Katie Bassiri is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) and a Registered Play Therapy Supervisor (RPT-S). She owns and operates a mental health agency called The Treehouse, in Albuquerque, New Mexico which works to provide multidisciplinary support to neurodivergent individuals and their families. Katie provides supervision for counselors and is an interdisciplinary supervisor for Social Workers for the state of New Mexico. Her greatest passion is to provide trainings and supervision to professionals and businesses to better support autistic people in therapeutic, work and school environments. She is also an advocate for play across the lifespan. She has presented locally, nationally, and internationally on the topics of play therapy, autism, neurodiversity, and trauma. Katie's professional work is heavily influenced by her experiences working in residential treatment and home-based therapy with non-speaking autistic children who have trauma histories. Most importantly, Katie is a mom to three autistic children who have made a strong impact on who she is and how she supports families. She co-authored the children's book, "Congratulations You're Autistic" with her husband, Alex, to provide a more positive and affirming message for caregivers to talk about autism with their children. When she is not playing at The Treehouse, you will find her swimming and adventuring with her autistic family and their dog Lucky Jack.

Instructor Kelsie Bacon, LCSW-S, RPT

Kelsie Bacon is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Registered Play Therapist. She is a clinical therapist and supervisor at The Treehouse in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Kelsie is multiply neurodivergent and specializes in working with children, adolescents, and families, including working with autistic children, neurodivergent children, and those diagnosed with ADHD and other developmental disabilities. She is certified in Autplay Therapy, level 1 and 2 sand tray trained, Level 3 OCN London accredited in Supporting Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) and has her Down Syndrome Awareness Diploma. Kelsie is an integrative and prescriptive play therapist drawing from theories and modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy, Child-Centered Play Therapy, Experiential Play Therapy, Theraplay, Adlerian Play Therapy, Attachment theory, Sand tray, Mindfulness, Art, and DIRFloortime. Kelsie has given national and international presentations on working with neurodivergent populations using play therapy. Kelsie is passionate about providing support and consultation to individuals, families, and therapists regarding PDA characteristics and strategies. She is a published author and co-authored the book Supporting Autistic Ava, with Lynn Louse Wonders. She was a guest on the Neurodiversity podcast where she spoke on depression and suicide in the neurodivergent community. She is a current board member of the Association for Play Therapy, New Mexico Branch, and is the current secretary for the Child Counseling Center and Play Therapy Institute of New Mexico board. Kelsie is a current participant in the 2023 Association of Play Therapy Leadership Academy.

Course curriculum

    1. PowerPoint Pathological Demand Avoidance

    2. PDA Module 1

    3. PDA Module 2

    4. PDA Module 3

    5. PDA Module 4

    6. PDA Module 5

    7. PDA Module 6

    8. PDA Module 7

    9. PDA Module 8

    10. EDA-Q

    11. Extreme Demand Avoidance 8-item measure

    12. PDA References

    1. Evaluation (Required)

    2. Quiz

About this course

  • $100.00
  • 15 lessons
  • 4 hours of video content

What People Are Saying

4 star rating

Very useful

Mary Stanwood

Great information.

Great information.

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