So, what is neurodivergence-affirming therapy?
For one, it is way more radical than you think. It is not some cool buzz word that shows that a therapist took a 1-hour training on neurodivergence. It is an affront to Euro-Western therapy and the medical model. Neurodivergence-affirming means that as a therapist, I do not see autism or OCD or ADHD or any neurodivergence as a disease process. I see neurodivergence as a different type of brain, not good, not bad, just different.
Does that mean I don’t think it’s hard to be autistic? Hell no. Of course, it’s hard. Of course, being ADHD is hard. But that doesn’t make them diseases. And I don’t believe in fixing or curing them either. I believe that every neurotype offers profound gifts and challenges and that my job as a therapist is to help people live with their neurotype in the best way possible for them.
I do occasionally have people walk through my “doors” (screen but you get the picture) essentially looking for me to help them perform neurotypicality better because being autistic or ADHD or AuDHD makes them “weird” and gives them trouble at work. I get it, I really really do. Being neurodivergent in a world that very clearly wants everyone to follow social norms and perform certain (in my opinion, pointless) neurotypical ceremonial acts like going to coffee, shaking people’s hands, and going to meets, is difficult. And I do understand that some of us must perform these ceremonial acts with a smile in order to survive. However, that is not the type of therapy I provide.
More than likely, if you come into therapy with me, I am going to think your neurodivergent brain is awesome and agree with it more than the capitalist machine that wants to turn you into a neurotypical. I reject all therapy and therapeutic models that try to blame individuals for a messed-up society. And a lot of therapies do this, unfortunately (but unsurprisingly since therapy was developed from within a sick society). Neurodivergence-affirming therapy is essentially saying society sucks, not you.