My Approach to Helping
A relationship in which one partner is autistic and the other is neurotypical can be lonely for both partners. You can feel isolated and hurt, which often leads to a fear that nothing can ever change for the better.
As a specialist in working online with neurodiverse couples, I offer you a unique understanding of the dilemmas and challenges encountered by each of you. You can learn to identify the differences between you and understand the effects of these differences. Our work together includes creating strategies for effective communication in a blame-free environment where you can begin to show compassion not only to your partner but to yourself.
If you have children, we can include parenting concerns. Often, a parent begins to see autism in himselfherself only after one of the children has been diagnosed. Family considerations are key to our work together.
Sometimes, couples are confused about their relationship goals: one partner wants to leave and the other wants to stay. Individually, we will look at each partner's hopes, dreams, and needs, and then come together to see what is possible. Our work includes a frank assessment of the difficulties and the rewards involved in this unique relationship. I will support you with education and skills development along the way.
If you choose to work with me, you have two options. We can utilize a standard model for sessions oriented toward your specific concerns as they arise. I will offer you supportive education and strategies as we look at your lives together. This is a familiar way of working with a therapist, even though my role is slightly different than you may be accustomed to because of the sound clinical education involved in our work together. My goal is to be certain you understand the neurodiverse relationship in terms of what can change and what cannot change so that you move in directions that are productive, while offering you suggestions for communication skills and strategies.
The other option is to incorporate the unique protocol I have developed. This is a six-session series called Neurodiverse Bonding, which includes psychoeducation regarding neurodiversity as well as communication strategies. These sessions are based on what you identify as your particular relationship challenges through a questionnaire you each complete in advance of our second meeting. Neurodiversity is a complex matter in a relationship, however, and the six-week protocol is an introductory approach. The goal is to offer you insight as well as concrete skills and strategies for improving understanding of yourselves and each other, leading to more effective communication. You're welcome to continue working with me after these intial six sessions, of course, but this way you can budget your time and finances while feeling confident that we will be able to initiate discussion of your primary concerns.
More Info About My Practice
Neurodiverse couples face unique challenges, many of which are misunderstood or overlooked in traditional methods of counseling. Please don't give up because you have had an unsuccessful experience with counseling in the past. Most couple counseling techniques are emotion-focused and insight-based. These are two areas of divergence for neurodiverse couples, and they favor the perspective and orientation of the neurotypical partner. My approach includes acknowledgment of these differences and a goal of helping you understand them as well.
A large part of our work together includes education about autism and also about the neurotypical experience, and how the relationship is shaped by these differences.
If you discern during our work that it might be better to go your separate ways, we can work together on creating a new path. There are more options to consider than marriage as you currently experience it and divorce.
My clients and I work online with a video chat platform created specifically for telemedicine. Depending on where you live, we form a counseling (Washington state) or coaching relationship (everywhere else). There is overlap in these two practices but they are different. You can find a full exploration of the distinctions on my website.
Specific Issue(s) I'm Skilled at Helping With
I work with neurodiverse couples - autistic + neurotypical partners - and also with individuals in these relationships. As a member of Mensa, my second area of clinical expertise is supporting the complexity of high intelligence. Often, these two specialties merge in the couples with whom I work.
How Psychotherapy Can Help
My practice is unique and highly specialized. Together, we can work to help you understand your unique issues and replace them with strategies for communication behaviors that help you feel better about yourself and your relationship. Please visit my website TheNeurodiverseCouple.com for extensive information about my practice. I work exclusively online. International clients are welcome. I work primarily in English and also in Italian and German.
On the Fence About Going to Therapy?
Many neurodiverse couples have had negative experience even with highly skilled counselors and therapists. This is because most couple therapy modalities have been developed by neurotypical clinicians and are effective for neurotypical couples, and because our education and training as therapists lack emphasis on the unique qualities of the neurodiverse relationship. Traditional couple counseling relies on the ability of both partners to reflect on their interior lives and to articulate their experience. This is often a great challenge for autistic individuals within the context of a conventional couple session. My work with couples acknowledges and accommodates these differences at the outset so that both partners feel heard. However, if you're not ready to work with me, I have developed a series of courses that are available online that you might find interesting and useful. They include sound clinical information about neurodiversity as well as strategies and skills geared toward improving your communication now. You can find the courses at my teaching website, TheNeurodiverseCouple.thinkific.com, which is also linked from my website above. Previews of the courses are available on my YouTube Channel, The Neurodiverse Couple (two course introductions are linked below). Also, you might be interested in my new blog called "Inside the Neurodiverse Relationship" which you can find at InsideTheNeurodiverseRelationship.blogspot.com.