Autistic individuals need therapists who fully understand autism and neurodivergence. We need therapists who understand how our brain uniquely impacts our lived experiences and whatever concern brought us to therapy. We need therapists who can tailor their approach and techniques to our neurodivergent minds (I wrote a full essay about this: Does Your Therapist Know Enough About Autism to Help You?).
Finding a therapist who understands neurodivergence and autism can be difficult. When I was looking for a therapist to better understand my autistic identity, I reached out to a therapist who said she worked with autistic people. We set up a video consultation to see if we were a good fit. Due to my experience as a therapist, I asked questions to understand her experience and approach with autism. Turns out, she was not familiar with the term neurodiversity. She knew very little about autism and told me, “You can educate me about autism.” I knew she wasn’t the therapist for me.
In an ideal world, neurodivergent people could work with neurodivergent therapists who understand their lived experience. However, there simply aren’t enough neurodivergent therapists (yet).
In the meantime, it’s important we find therapists who know enough about autism that they can be effective in helping us. Below are questions that you can ask a therapist in a consultation to help you discern if they know enough about autism:
How do you tailor your therapeutic approach to neurodivergent people?
How do you help autistic people work with their strengths?
How do you help autistic people navigate their challenges?
What experience do you have working with autistic people?
What is your conceptualization of autism?
How do you help people with autistic burnout?
If these questions feel uncomfortable due to their direct nature, you could also use the following script:
I’m seeking therapy to help me with [insert your need here]. I’m also autistic and need a therapist who fully understands neurodivergence and how to tailor therapy to my neurodivergent mind. Do you think you’re a good fit for my needs?
While going through the process of “interviewing” therapists may take some time, it makes all the difference to have a therapist who can fully understand and help you.
Thank you for reading. If you'd like to work with an autistic therapist, I'm currently accepting clients. You can schedule a consultation here and use the above questions :)