A photo of Rena Sorensen.

Staff Psychologist III, Division of Child Psychiatry


About Me


As a pediatric psychologist, I specialize in the assessment and treatment of children with neurodevelopmental disorders and severe problem behavior. Most of my work has centered around providing intensive intervention across multiple settings. I currently lead a program for patients admitted for medical care who have pre-existing behavioral challenges or who struggle to tolerate their care for any reason.

I am pleased to work in an environment that welcomes all children and strives to provide the necessary resources to help children with behavioral challenges access the care they need while keeping everyone safe. I became interested in working with children with learning and behavioral challenges as a teen and continued to expand on this interest through undergraduate and graduate work by pursuing degrees in psychology with specialty training in behavior analysis.

My approach to treatment is to understand what the child is trying to communicate with their behavior. I believe that every child can learn new ways to communicate and cope with the help of caregivers who create supportive environments and teach vital skills. It is important to meet the child and family where they are, to identify their strengths and to use their strengths to build skills to replace problem behavior. It is equally important that all caregivers who work with the child and family learn how to provide the needed support. I find it rewarding to help children transform and grow during treatment and to see their parents and caregivers build confidence in helping them succeed.

I joined Cincinnati Children's in 2000 to assist in the development of intensive behavior intervention programs for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families. I have led the development of home-based behavioral treatment, community-based consultation to schools and agencies, and intensive education and severe behavior clinic-based services. I have also helped build an acute psychiatric inpatient stabilization program providing specialized services for children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

I am currently the psychology lead of the Behavior Safety Team, a program that was developed using quality improvement methods to help children with behavioral challenges access needed medical care while reducing staff injury related to caring for these patients. In 2015, I received the Richard M. Smith MD Leadership in Patient Safety Award from the Health Care Collaborative in recognition of my role in building this service.

I’m honored to have received the 2019 Exemplary Therapist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). I was nominated for this award because of my work with children diagnosed with both developmental disabilities and mental health disorders. I also received the 2016 Envisionary Award for Outstanding Leadership in Developmental Disabilities.

When I’m not at work, I enjoy spending time with my children, family and friends. I also enjoy walking my dogs, reading, kayaking and traveling.

Clinical Divisions

Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics

My Locations

My Education

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.

My Publications

Clozapine for Drug-Refractory Irritability in Individuals with Developmental Disability. Wink, LK; Badran, I; Pedapati, EV; Sorensen, R; Benton, SC; Johnson, MC; Wissel, G; Erickson, CA. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology. 2016; 26:843-846.