From time to time, I have a client tell me that they are worried they “aren’t doing therapy right.” This type of self-doubt is not surprising. Most people have a skewed view of what therapy is due to most therapy being developed by allistic-culture which doesn’t fit what is helpful to autistics. I have seen many allistic (allistic = not autistic) therapists and I can tell you that no matter how much I explained my experience, I don’t think they could understand what it felt like to actually be me. I went to therapy seeking to be understood and I felt like I hit a brick wall.
Part of unmasking and autistic recovery is learning to trust ourselves again. When we come into therapy as clients, essentially, we are the customers. We decide what is helpful therapy or not. The therapist doesn’t. So many of us have outsourced our power to “experts” when we were the experts all along. If the type of therapy or the therapist you are working with isn’t helping, trust that! There is nothing wrong with us if allistic-created therapy doesn’t work for us. We don’t need to “try harder” to fit the allistic-view of healing.
That is why I love autistic-person-centered therapy. I don’t presume to be an expert of a person’s lived experience, but I do have some idea because we are both autistic. My role as a therapist is to create healing and helpful conversations, autistic to autistic. Through these conversations, we hopefully discover things that are useful which helps the person create a life that is sustainable for them as an autistic person.
Autistic people need authentic, affirming, autistic-centered support. We don’t need therapists who are sympathetic but without the real knowledge (or preferably lived experience) of what it’s like to exist with an autistic brain. The typical therapy techniques from allistic culture do not usually work for us. We don’t need to go to a therapist's office only to again feel that we aren’t “doing it right” because the therapy being provided wasn’t made for us.