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Theory of Mind Interventions to Develop Social-Emotional Skills: Improve Social & Academic Success from Infancy Through Adolescence

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Carol Westby, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL, ASDCS
6 Hours 19 Minutes
Audio and Video
Dec 01, 2017
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Digital Recording
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Featuring Carol Westby, PhD, CCC-SLP: Internationally-renowned expert on Theory of Mind, play assessment and development, language-literacy relationships, and the developer of the Westby Play Scale!

Children with Theory of Mind (ToM) deficits lack social-reciprocity and perspective taking and struggle to make inferences about what others might do, think and feel. They have poor self-awareness and emotional regulation. Thus, they perceive the world they live in to be unpredictable putting them at a social and academic disadvantage. Your challenge as a therapist working with these children is to help them develop effective social-emotional functioning.

Join Theory of Mind expert, Carol Westby, PhD, CCC-SLP, and discover the developmental stages of ToM from precursors in infancy through higher-level thinking in adolescence. You will learn how to identify the patterns of ToM deficits and ToM developmental levels to effectively match intervention strategies to the child’s specific needs. Through video examples, children’s books and movies and pictures you will learn to design and implement strategies to develop the social-emotional underpinnings of ToM.



This online program is worth 6.25 hours CPD.



Carol Westby, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL, ASDCS's Profile

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Carol Westby, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL, ASDCS, is an internationally-renowned expert on play assessment and development in children. She is the developer of the renowned Westby Symbolic Play Scale, a research-based scale used to assess children's social and play skills. Dr. Westby has written and implemented projects to support personnel preparation, clinical service, and research, including Project PLAY (Play and Language Attunement in Young Children), that trains caregivers to increase the development of play, theory of mind, and language.

Dr. Westby is a fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), is Board-Certified in Child Language and Literacy Disorders, and has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Geneva College and the University of Iowa's Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, the ASHA Award for Contributions to Multicultural Affairs, the Honors of ASHA, and the Kleffner Lifetime Clinical Career Award.

Dr. Westby has published and presented nationally and internationally on topics including play, autobiographical memory, theory of mind, language-literacy relationships, narrative/expository development and facilitation, adverse childhood experiences, screen time, trauma, metacognition/executive function, and assessment and intervention with culturally/linguistically diverse populations. She has consulted with the New Mexico Preschool for the Deaf, which employs a play-based curriculum.

Dr. Westby has been a visiting professor at Flinders University in South Australia where she worked on a language/literacy curriculum, and at Brigham Young University where she consulted on SEEL, a systematic and engaging emergent literacy program that employs playful practice. She is a consultant for Bilingual Multicultural Services in Albuquerque, NM and holds an affiliated appointment in communication disorders at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. Dr. Westby is certified as an Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinical Specialist (ASDCS).


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Carol Westby has employment relationships with Brigham Young University and Bilingual Multicultural Services. She receives royalties as a published author. Carol Westby receives a speaking honorarium and recording royalties from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Carol Westby is a member of American Board of Child Language and Language Disorders.


  1. Assess and describe the developmental stages of Theory of Mind (ToM) in infants/toddlers, children and adolescents with ASD, SCD, LD and hearing impairment.
  2. Connect current research documenting neural bases for emotional understanding and ToM.
  3. Analyze the types of difficulties making inferences exhibited by children and adolescents with ASD and SCD.
  4. Design and implement activities to develop the social-emotional underpinnings of ToM.
  5. Employ strategies to promote ToM in children and adolescents.
  6. Use children’s literature to promote inference making and interpersonal and intrapersonal ToM.


Foundations for ToM Development

  • ToM dimensions
  • Neuroanatomical/Neurochemical foundations for ToM types or dimensions
  • Genetic/environmental influences on ToM
  • DSM-5® diagnoses and comorbidities

Assessment of ToM Development

  • Formal and informal ways to assess ToM
  • Precursors in infants/toddlers
  • Emergence during preschool
  • Higher order ToM in school-age children and adolescents

Cognitive/Affective ToM and Interpersonal/Intrapersonal ToM

  • Patterns of ToM deficits and ToM developmental levels
  • Social and academic implications
  • Profiles to effectively match deficits to interventions

ToM Interventions for: Infants and Toddlers

  • Engage children in emotional sharing
  • Develop several types of joint attention
  • Promote coordination/co-regulation in interactions

Early Preschool

  • Develop a sense of self through play
  • Develop pretend play skills
  • Nurture foundations for autobiographical memory and the ability to think about the future

Late Preschool/Early Elementary

  • Foster the vocabulary and syntactic skills necessary for ToM
  • Identify cues and clues to help recognize and infer emotions of self and others
  • Promote language for counterfactual reasoning and mental time travel

Late Elementary/Adolescents

  • Strategies for emotional and behavioral regulation
  • Strategies to promote social and academic comprehension
  • Sentence frames to develop complex syntax for explaining reasons for emotions and behaviors

Deficits in Theory of Mind (ToM) are at the heart of social-emotional difficulties exhibited by those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Social Communication Disorders (SCD) and contribute to the social difficulties of children with Language Disorders (LD) and Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing (DHH).

Target Audience

Counselors, Teachers/Educators, Occupational Therapists & Occupational Therapy Assistants, Social Workers, Speech-Language Pathologists and other Mental Health Professionals


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