How can counselling help autistic adults?

You may have come across this post wondering if you’re autistic, wondering if counselling is the right course of action or wondering if a counsellor would understand the way an autistic brain processes the world?

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 but it does mean that miscommunication and misunderstanding are extremely commonplace, leading to confusion, frustration and overwhelm. Mental ill health is more common in autistic 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.

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 that, while they work in the short term, are causing more problems longer term.Male in counselling

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 autistic clients.

Asking an autistic client 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.

If you’re looking for an autistic counsellor who’ll understand the unique needs of autistic clients, Reflexity Counselling may be the place for you. Check out the Neurodiversity Page to see more detail about the adjustments and please Contact Me to discuss your needs. You may also find this link to the National Autistic Society helpful.

(You’ll notice that I’ve used “autistic” throughout this blog. This is because research has show the majority of autistic people 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.)

Frances Coleman-Williams