What is the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)?

The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is an evidence-based intervention specifically developed for very young children with autism. ESDM is a play-based intervention that fuses behavioral and developmental principles into an integrated approach. ESDM can be implemented in different natural settings such as the home or the daycare/preschool by trained therapists as well as parents within play and daily routines. ESDM aims to reduce the symptoms of autism and target all developmental areas.

Certification in ESDM

Becoming a certified ESDM Therapist is a multi-step process. You are encouraged to review the process here and with the developers of the training procedures at the MIND Institute in California.


The following steps are intended for professionals interested in becoming certified in the ESDM and who: work regularly with 12-48 month aged children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); have educational degrees beyond a bachelor’s or the academic equivalent from their country of origin (e.g., MA, Ph.D., MFT, SLP, OT); work as part of an interdisciplinary team (e.g., general/special education teacher, developmental/clinical psychologist, SLP, OT, behavior analyst); have read the ESDM Manual and can bring their own copy to the workshops; have completed each training step (defined below) before advancing to the next;  and have the resources to submit training materials, including videotapes, (immediately after the Advanced Workshop is complete) to our center for fidelity review.

The first step in the training process is to read the published ESDM materials:Early Start Denver Model for Young Children with Autism: Promoting Language, Learning, and Engagement, by Sally Rogers and Geraldine Dawson, ISBN 9781606236314   After reading the manual, there are two levels of workshops available for training in the ESDM (Introductory and Advanced). Enrollment in the Introductory and Advanced Workshops may be done concurrently.

The Introductory Workshop addresses the main aspects of the ESDM.  The Introductory ESDM Workshop is  available through UC Davis Extension and is offered several times per year.  It is designed for attendees from a variety of backgrounds, including professionals, parents, and other interested parties. It is not intended to train providers to fidelity, but is one step in this process.

Introductory ESDM Workshop registration

The Advanced Workshop involves 3 days of experiential learning. It is available by application only to professionals meeting the prerequisites above, and who have read the manual and completed the Introductory Workshop. It is the next step in working toward certification as an ESDM therapist, but will not, by itself, provide certification. The Advanced Workshop includes interactive sessions with children with ASD during which professionals practice, in groups of 3-5 providers, implementing the full model with live supervision. Space is limited and applications will be reviewed in the order they are received. Please click here to down load an application for an Advanced ESDM Training.

ESDM Advanced Training Application

If you have additional questions or need help with the Advanced Training application please contact Dr. Epstein at drjepstein@southshorepsych.com. Advanced workshops can be arranged at your center.  Dr. Epstein also offers Advanced workshops at her office location in Hingham, MA.  Please contact Dr. Epstein to discuss the cost of the advanced workshop. 


Certification:  Finally, in order to become a certified ESDM therapist, professionals are required to submit materials that demonstrate their competency in the ESDM immediately following the Advanced Workshop. If you are seeking supervision for certification in the ESDM model, it is available for an additional charge. Supervision is provided on all aspects of the model, and materials will be coded for fidelity to the model. Once a supervision contract has been signed, professionals are expected to submit these materials to their trainer in a timely manner (with the first submission occurring within the weeks following Advanced Workshop attendance).

All steps in the certification process are expected to be completed within 8 -12 months, unless other arrangements are made.  Adherence to the timeline is required in order to continue in this process. There are three rounds of fidelity submissions which include paperwork and videotapes of the provider utilizing the ESDM with children with ASD. Additional submissions may be required if the provider does not meet fidelity at each of the stages.  Please contact us for detailed information regarding the fidelity process. The current cost for the fidelity submissions at this site is $1500 per provider.

Training to become an ESDM certified trainer is offered only through the UC Davis MIND Institute

Introductory ESDM Workshop  registration

Advanced Workshops in Hingham:   August 12, 13, & 14, 2019

November 13, 14, & 15, 2019

Now accepting applications for Advanced ESDM Workshop

Location:  Hingham, MA

Cost:  $2000 per participant

ESDM Advanced Training Application

Please click here for more information about becoming an ESDM certified therapist.