Rena J. Sorensen, PhD

Staff Psychologist III, Division of Child Psychiatry

Academic Affiliation

Phone 513-636-4788


Behavioral assessment and treatment of children and adolescents dually diagnosed with a developmental disability and severe behavior disorders; skill acquisition in children with severe learning disorders

Rena J. Sorensen, PhD, is a staff psychologist in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics and the Division of Child Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. In January 2000, Dr. Sorensen joined Cincinnati Children's to assist in the development of intensive behavior intervention programs for children with autism spectrum disorders and their families. She has played a lead role in the development of behavioral treatment programs for children in their homes and clinic, intensive clinic-based services, community consultation and inpatient acute stabilization programs for children dually diagnosed with a developmental disability and severe problem behavior. She currently co-leads the hospital-wide Behavioral Safety Committee which utilizes quality improvement methodology to reduce staff injury related to aggressive patient interactions for children admitted to the inpatient medical/surgical units.

Dr. Sorensen came to Cincinnati Children's from the Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where she completed residency and fellowship in the Department of Behavioral
Psychology, specializing in the behavioral assessment and treatment of persons with developmental disabilities, severe behavior, and pediatric feeding disorders.

Dr. Sorensen also served as an adjunct faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Continuing Studies, teaching courses on behavioral interventions for children with autism to graduate students in special education. Dr. Sorensen earned her undergraduate degree at Iowa State University and her graduate degree at Central Michigan University.

PhD: Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI, 1998.

Residency and Fellowship: Assessment and Treatment of Severe Behavior Disorders, Kennedy Krieger Institute, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.

Licensure: Clinical Psychologist, Ohio, 2000.

Manning-Courtney P, Murray D, Currans K, Johnson H, Bing N, Kroeger-Geoppinger K, Sorensen R, Bass J, Reinhold J, Johnson A, Messerschmidt T. Autism Spectrum DisordersCurrent Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care. 2013 Jan;43(1) pp 2-11.

Kroeger K A, Sorensen-Burnworth R. A Parent Training Model for Toilet Training Children with Autism. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. 2010 Jun;54(6) pp 556-567.   

Kroeger K A, Sorensen-Burnworth R. Toilet training individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities: A critical review. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2009.

Carnahan CR, Williamson P, Clarke L, Sorensen R. A systematic approach for supporting paraeducators in educational settings: A guide for teachers. Teaching Exceptional Children. 2009;41(5) pp34-43.     

Manning-Courtney P, Brown  J, Molloy CA, Reinhold J, Murray D, Sorensen-Burnworth R, Messerschmidt T, Kent B. Diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care. 2003;33(9) 283-304.    

O’Connor JT, Sorensen-Burnworth RJ, Rush K, Eidman S. A mand analysis and levels treatment in an outpatient clinic. Behavioral Interventions. 2003;18(2), 139-150.

O’Connor JT, Sorensen-Burnworth RJ, Fisher WW, Kurtz PF, Henry JR, Fahs-Clark A. Classroom-based functional analysis of destructive behavior. Proven Practice. 2002;4(2), 77-81.