Mental Health Aspects of Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities
Professional Development Series

Course for Direct Support Professionals

The next course will be offered in Spring 2023

The course consists of 6 weekly, webinar-style sessions via Zoom (105 minutes each) where the course facilitator will demonstrate how the information reviewed during sessions can be applied in the day-to-day support of people with IDD-MH. Each session will host 75-minutes of instruction and a 30-minute office hour session will follow for more in depth discussion with questions and answers. Registration is $149 per person and participants can receive University of New Hampshire Continuing Education Units and a Certificate of Completion for MHIDD Training for Direct Support Professionals.

Who should attend?

  • It is highly recommended for the following providers:
  • Direct Support Professionals (both MH and IDD)
  • Functional Support Specialists (both MH and IDD)
  • Residential/AFL/home care providers & staff
  • Day habilitation & residential supervisors

Contact for more information.


Session 1: Foundations I: Introduction to the Course & Guiding Principles

  • Course Overview
  • Positive Psychology & other Guiding Principles (Positive Psych/Strengths-based, Family & Person-centered, Cultural & Linguistic Competency, Trauma-Informed, Biopsychosocial, Wellness-based)

Session 2: Foundations II: Overview of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities (IDD)  and Common Vulnerabilities

  • Overview of IDD & Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Core BioPsychoSocial Vulnerabilities of IDD (Executive Functioning, communication, sensory)

Session 3: Foundations III: Mental Health Aspects of IDD

  • Identifying signs and symptoms related to mental health
  • Overview of the most common mental health diagnoses: Anxiety, Depression & Trauma
  • Exploring how core vulnerabilities of IDD impact mental health

Session 4: Foundations IV:  Mental Health Aspects of IDD

  • Trauma
  • Emotional Regulation

Session 5: Therapeutic Interventions I

  • Positive Identity Development
  • Trauma Informed Care in Action (resiliency)
  • Promoting Wellness (PERMA+)

Session 6: Therapeutic Interventions II

  • Emotion Recognition & Regulation
  • Relaxation & Stress Reduction
  • Creative Expression

Who Should Participate?

  • Direct Support Professionals (both MH and IDD)
  • Functional Support Specialists (both MH and IDD)
  • Residential/AFL/home care providers & staff
  • Day habilitation & residential supervisors

Why Participate?

This course is designed to improve the supports provided to individuals who experience IDD-MH by….

  • Enhancing DSPs’ understanding of important aspects related to wellness and positive supports for people with IDD-MH
  • Equipping DSPs with practical approaches to use in their daily work
  • Increasing job satisfaction and preventing burnout
  • Providing assurance to supervisors that DSPs are adequately trained and equipped to provide quality, strengths-based supports

Participants who attend all 6 sessions of this course will receive a Center for START Services Certificate of Completion and 0.75 CEUs from the University of New Hampshire (CEUs are available for individual sessions).

Course Expectations:

It is expected that all participants will:

  • Complete a pre- and post-survey at the beginning and conclusion of the course & brief training evaluations following each session
  • Approach training opportunities with readiness and receptiveness
  • Attend all Zoom training sessions
  • Engage with course material in order to apply what is learned into daily work

Course Learning Objectives:

At the end of this course, participants will….

  • Demonstrate an understanding of IDD and the presentation of co-occurring mental health conditions
  • Demonstrate a biopsychosocial understanding of an individual’s strengths and vulnerabilities
  • Apply strengths-based therapeutic practices, interventions and skills to support individuals
  • Effectively facilitate therapeutic activities
  • Engage in positive and wellness-focused interactions with individuals, families, and colleagues

About the Facilitators:

Anne LaForceAnne LaForce, MA
NCSS Director of Therapeutic Coaching

M.A., Clinical Psychology, North Carolina Central University
B.A., Psychology, Kent State University

Anne La Force is a Licensed Psychological Associate with a Master’s degree in clinical psychology.  Anne has over 20 years of experience working with adults, adolescents and children with developmental disabilities and mental health need.  As a Senior Project Manager and Director of Therapeutic Coaching, Anne provides consultation and training to START teams across the country and facilitates monthly practice groups for Therapeutic Team Leaders and Clinical Directors. Anne has experience in practicing and training other clinicians in crisis prevention and intervention, implementation of positive psychology approaches, assessment of biopsychosocial factors and trauma informed care practices.