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National Autism Training Programme for Psychiatrists


Autistic people can experience more mental health issues than the general population, and may be seen in community mental health teams, older adult services, or forensic teams by a psychiatrist, who, in many cases will have received little additional specialist training in autism. (Specialist Training is described at Tier 3 of the Core Capabilities framework)

To address this, and to provide a career pathway for psychiatrists who may wish to specialise in autism and neurodiversity, Health Education England is developing a national programme of autism training for psychiatrists.

The programme will encompass two separate pathways that address the different needs of psychiatrists who either:-

  • Work in general settings where they will support autistic people with a range of mental health issues, or,
  • Work in highly specialist autism teams and will support autistic people with complex and overlapping needs providing clinical leadership and shape service development


What will the training programme look like? 

Tier 3 Autism Foundation Training Programme

A Tier 3 Foundation Autism Training Programme will be developed to meet the needs of consultant psychiatrists, specialty doctors and senior trainees who support autistic people across a range of settings. This programme will equip psychiatrists to identify the possibility of autism in psychiatric settings and make a working diagnosis for cases that are not considered complex.

The foundation training will enable psychiatrists to formulate a personalised psychiatric support plan and incorporating reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of autistic people with co-occurring mental health problems. The programme will commence in March 2023 and will delivered via a live webinar which will be participative. This will be supported by an eLearning module, that delegates can access to suit their schedule.

Tier 3 Autism Specialist Enhanced Skills Training Programme

Additionally, a Tier 3 Autism Training Programme will be developed to equip specialist psychiatrists with the enhanced clinical skills needed to lead and deliver specialist autism services. This programme will include autism diagnoses, co-morbidity with other neurodevelopmental conditions and therapeutic approaches. It will support the development of a future pipeline of clinical leaders for specialist autism services. 

The next cohort of delivery of this programme will commence in March 2024, with delegates attending a full day event at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in London. This will be enhanced with a series of eLearning modules and learning resources, which will be supported by mentoring and peer to peer support, requiring some guided self-study. Participants will be able to complete the course at their own pace, over a six-month period.


Who will deliver the programme?

The programme will be developed and delivered by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. It will be designed and delivered in co-production with autistic people and their families.

For more information about the programme or apply to be a mentor, contact autismtraining@rcpsych.ac.uk.