Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and is a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr. Laugeson is the Founder and Director of the UCLA PEERS Clinic, which is an outpatient program providing evidence-based social skills training for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities and other social challenges across the lifespan. Dr. Laugeson is also the Interim Director for the UCLA Tarjan Center, which is a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Program Director for the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Internship Program at UCLA, and Program Director for Dissemination, Outreach, and Education at the prestigious UCLA Autism Center of Excellence. Dedicated to supporting those with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families, she has also held positions as Founding Director of The Help Group – UCLA Autism Research Alliance (2007 – 2017), Training Director for the UCLA Tarjan Center (2014 – 2021), Director of the UCLA Early Childhood Clubhouse Program (2007 – 2010), and Associate Director for the UCLA Parenting and Children’s Friendship Training Program (2007 – 2010).
Dr. Laugeson received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University and completed her pre-doctoral psychology internship in developmental disabilities at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. She was a two-time recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health in 2004 and 2006, the recipient of the Semel Scholar Award for Junior Faculty Career Development in 2008 and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Pepperdine University in 2010. Dr. Laugeson has been a principal investigator and collaborator on a number of nationally funded studies investigating social skills training for youth with social difficulties from preschool to early adulthood and has authored four books related to social skills including the critically acclaimed, The Science of Making Friends.
As the developer of PEERS, Dr. Laugeson has trained tens of thousands of mental health professionals, educators, and families worldwide, and is dedicated to developing, testing, and disseminating evidence-based treatments to improve social skills for those with neurodevelopmental disabilities across the lifespan and across the globe. As one of the only empirically supported and internationally recognized social skills programs for autistic youth, her programs are currently used in over 125 countries and have been translated into over a dozen languages. Her work has been featured is numerous media outlets, including People Magazine, USA Today, the Washington Post, LA Times, New York Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and the Netflix series, Love on the Spectrum.