Aspergers Therapy: Making me a better therapist and better at relationships
Here at Tribeca Therapy, we offer Aspergers therapy and see a good number of folks with a formal diagnosis or Aspergers or who find some meaning in Aspergers in helping them make sense of how they make sense of the world. I make an effort to build meaningful relationships with everyone who comes through my door. Yet in doing therapy with Aspergers in particular, the work has pushed me to grow or rethink how I approach getting close to someone, not just with them, but in all of my relationships. Here are just a few of the lessons that I have learned.
An Aspergers Therapist learns: Never Make Assumptions
It is incredibly hard to tease out all of the assumptions that we carry with us in our interactions on a day-to-day basis. The human mind is so complex that it is hard to imagine how many different ways the functioning and perspective can look different from person to person. My relationships with Aspergers folks illuminates this even further and I have learned time and time again to not make assumptions about their experience or how they view a situation. They have taught me to slow down, be more inquisitive, and operate from a place of curiosity, rather than knowing. And that curious posture is something that I take with me in all areas of my life.
Look for Creative Ways to Connect: Aspergers Therapy as Inspiration
All of my therapy patients have something to teach me, both from our therapeutic work and because, well, I am fortunate enough to work with some really clever folks. All of the people I have worked with who identify as having Aspergers are incredibly smart, curious, and knowledgeable about numerous areas of study. When it comes to relationships, boy do I have a lot to offer, but what do I know about physics? Or ancient Egypt? Not so much. And those topics haven’t necessarily gained my attention before but if it interests the people in my life, it interests me. That is a part of who they are and can be a great starting point for us to connect around. And added bonus, I now know what a canopic jar is (they are decorative jars used to hold organs from mummies). Starting with interests that are often beyond my realm of knowledge has taught me to be increasingly curious and to not rush through the getting to know you process. It has also taught me to look for opportunities to connect in ways that would not have occurred to me previously.
Give Honest Feedback
Most Aspergers therapy patients cite relationships as the number one thing they need help with. It is well documented that socializing can be a challenge for these folks and is often the thing that leads them to get this diagnosis to begin with. With all of my patients, working on and building our relationship is at the epicenter of our work. Yet with Aspergers folks in particular, this is an incredibly important focus and an area ripe for growth. The most meaningful moments of connecting have been when I am sitting with someone and we are able to talk about our relationship and our social interactions in real time, as it is happening. This is something that most patients have never experienced and it can help us feel closer and can give them priceless feedback regarding how others view them and vice versa.
Creative, relational therapy creates a foundation for people with an Aspergers diagnosis to go out into the world and build a full and fulfilling life.