If you’re an autistic adult thinking about pursuing mental health counseling, should you do things differently? Do you need to find a therapist who specifically works with autistic patients and other neurodiverse patients, or does it not really matter?
Mental Health Counseling Should be Different for Neurodiverse People
It does matter! When someone is neurodiverse (like someone who’s autistic or someone who has ADHD), their brain is ‘wired’ differently, and, as a result, they will manage their emotions and respond to life’s stresses differently. They simply experience things a little differently than neurotypical people. Because of the neurological differences in their brain, they might struggle more with things like taking care of themselves, accomplishing tasks or goals, and forming and maintaining relationships with others.
Neurodiverse people also are more likely to experience mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.
Autistic people in particular struggle with anxiety, often caused by sensory, emotional or situational overwhelm. A therapist who is not trained in neurodiversity may not fully understand the reasons behind this type of anxiety, and, as a result, may not be able to provide the most helpful treatment for the patient. A counselor trained in helping autistic people, however, can guide someone through ways to calm themselves in these stressful situations and ways to deal with unpredictability in their lives.
This is why it’s so important to find a therapist who understands neurodiversity! Not only that, it’s important to be open with your therapist about being autistic and about any co-occurring conditions you may have. When your counselor is aware that you are autistic, then they will be better able to understand and respond to your triggers, and better able to help you to manage your emotions and your life, and to accomplish your goals.
You Don’t Have to Be ‘Normal.’
In the past, behavior therapies were the only accepted way to ‘treat’ autism. These types of therapies try to change autistic peoples’ behaviors so they appear to be more neurotypical so that they ‘fit in’ better with others. But we now know that these types of therapies aren’t healthy, and can be really detrimental to the mental health of autistic individuals.
Mental health counseling for autistic people is focused on helping them to cope with the challenges presented by autism, rather than trying to change who they are, and on helping them to embrace their differences.
We’re all different, and that’s ok. Celebrating our differences is what neurodiversity is all about.
Want to Learn More About Mental Health Counseling for Autistic Adults?
At WTCSB, our counselors are trained in neurodiversity, so we can help all of our community, including our autistic and other neurodiverse community members, to achieve and maintain optimal mental health. Find out more about mental health counseling for autistic individuals at WTCSB today.
Ready to get started? Make an appointment online for same-day access or call us at 757-758-5106.