Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Fine Arts (Integrated Arts and Education)

Department or School/College

Creative Pulse Program

Committee Chair

Dr. Hipólito Rafael Chacón, Ph.D.

Commitee Members

Maribeth Rothwell, Karen Kaufmann


Art and Movement Treatment Modalities, ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Comorbidities, Special Needs, Therapy


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Accessibility | Art Practice | Counseling Psychology | Counselor Education | Development Studies | Disability and Equity in Education | Disability Studies | Other Arts and Humanities | Special Education and Teaching


Current statistics report 1 in 54 children have been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), many of whom have co-occurring mental health disorders. However, minimal research has been conducted on adults with autism with co-occurring mental health disorders and the efficacy of art and movement therapy techniques. This is the case study by Tristen Valentino, clinical therapist, of a client, David Smith (who was given the pseudonym to maintain confidentiality), a 35-year-old, obese, single, cisgender, heterosexual, Caucasian, male. The implications of this case study are discussed relative to the diagnosis and treatment of adults with ASD who possess comorbid clinical depression and clinical anxiety to assess the efficacy of utilizing the experiential nature of art and movement treatment modalities to effect positive change. David initially sought treatment for unspecified mental health disorders citing depression, anxiety, sensory sensitivity, and potential difficulty differentiating reality from fantasy. His ending diagnoses were Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). He received psychotherapy treatment from Tristen Valentino 66 times over a 12-month timespan with art and movement treatment modalities being instrumental in creating an experiential therapeutic environment. David responded well to treatment, with inventories in depression and anxiety demonstrating a reduction in both depression and anxiety. He also demonstrated higher levels of functioning and an increased desire to function independently.


© Copyright 2021 Tristen Valentino