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I Almost Quit Being A Therapist Due To Being Autistic

I studied psychology because I was fascinated by the brain and the notion that one could be “insane.” Since I was a child, consciousness and perception have been special interests of mine. As a kid I used to read greek philosophy books for fun as I pondered the meaning of life and if this was all just a dream.

Even though I loved learning, school was never easy for me. That was most likely due to the fact that it is very difficult for me to pay attention to anything that doesn’t deeply interest me. I can’t tell you how many times I have messed something up because I just couldn’t sit down and read the instructions for 5 minutes.

Although school wasn’t easy, I was set on being educated. I wanted to become a psychologist but settled for becoming a therapist due to finances as well as worry that I wouldn’t do well on the GRE because of my attention issues. I managed to avoid the SAT and the GRE entirely.

Once I graduated from my Master of Social Work program, my eyes were set on becoming a licensed therapist. I was also terrified of becoming a therapist. Although I didn't know I was autistic at the time, I knew that sitting in a room alone with another human being was difficult for me. It was exhausting even thinking about all the social cues and norms I would have to know how to follow while being a therapist.

Despite this fear, I pushed through and became a therapist. I loved psychology so much and I wanted to do something that put into action. Sitting and doing research was not interesting to me. I figured I would eventually learn how to sit with people and not feel so dang exhausted all the time. I was wrong.

From the start of college to receiving my therapy license took me 11 years. And here I was, uncomfortable and wanting to avoid sitting in a room with my clients at all costs. I began to wonder if I should give up on the idea of being a therapist at all and do something else. Around this same time, I happened to start suspecting that I was autistic.

After a lot of research, I was convinced without a doubt that I was in fact an autistic person. AuDHD, to be precise. And I realized quickly that that was why being a traditional therapist wasn’t working out so well for me. I learned that I wasn’t ever going to be able to perform neuronormative therapy and most likely, I wouldn’t be a good fit for neurotypical clients anyway. They probably would wonder at some point why I sucked at eye contact or would keep fidgeting.

Instead of quitting being a therapist, I quit being a masked therapist performing neuronormativity. And that has made all the difference.

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