How can counselling help neurodivergent adults?

female comforting overwhelmed female

You may have come across this post wondering if you’re autistic or ADHD. Is counselling the right course of action? Will a counsellor understand the way your brain works?

It can be really hard when you’ve been feeling like an alien, feeling as though you don’t fit in, feeling as though no one understands… To actually reach out and ask for help, to a complete stranger, in the hope they understand. It may be hard enough to get your thoughts in order, let alone try to express them to someone else. This is exactly where counselling can help.

Being neurodivergent simply means that your brain is wired differently. Sadly, it does mean that miscommunication and misunderstanding are extremely commonplace, leading to confusion, frustration and overwhelm. Mental ill health is more common in neurodivergent individuals because the stress put upon them to conform to a neurotypical existence is extremely high. This leads to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder to name but a few.

Counselling can help

Male in counselling

If you’ve grown up trying to fit in and work out how to function in a society that’s not designed for your needs, you might have put on a mask or develop coping strategies. While they work in the short term, are they causing more problems longer term?

A counsellor can offer you a place where you can explore who you are underneath the mask. The counselling room can be a safe space for your to be your authentic self. Learning who you are and what your values are is what’s called “self actualising”, it’s no different to the process a neurotypical client would go through except it’s important to find a counsellor who understands the unique needs of neurodivergent clients.

Asking someone to take off the mask they’ve used unconsciously their entire life is an incredibly vulnerable thing to do. Having an understanding that being misunderstood, gaslit and blamed for being odd, contrary and awkward is vital. Accepting the need for flexibility and understand sensitivities while being curious is something a good counsellor will be able to balance.

Adjustments

If you’re looking for an counsellor who’ll understand the unique needs of neurodivergent clients, Reflexity Counselling may be the place for you. I can provide adjustments, for example:

  • Providing more details about how counselling works
  • Flexibility over timings (shorter/longer sessions)
  • Support with executive dysfunction (appointment reminders)
  • Taking into account sensory needs
  • Using different communication methods as necessary

You may also find this link to the National Autistic Society helpful.

(You’ll notice that I’ve used identity first language throughout this blog. This is because research has show the majority of neurodivergent individuals prefer identity first language, however I understand that this won’t be the language everyone’s comfortable with. Please be reassured within counselling sessions I’d use the language that fits how you identify.)

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