Counselling May Harm Autistic People

The classic movie about the savant brother Raymond starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. Raymond epitomised a clear case of someone who didn’t fit the norm and had trouble because of it.

Are counsellors, therapists and mental health first aiders inadvertently discriminating against, and/or doing a disservice towards individuals with traits on the autism spectrum but who are not as “severe” as Raymond?

I suspect many are without even realising it.

Helping professions and their training come with biases about what people are, how they suffer, and what the “clinician” can do about it. Many of these biases are rooted in non-scientific psychological explanations rather than sensory-processing ones.

I really do wonder how many clients in long-term therapy and who continue to still struggle with daily life, are suffering because of their own wiring rather than something which is “fixed” through talking about it.

I also wonder how many clinicians are doing more harm than good by inadvertently reinforcing responsibilisation and personalisation in their autistic clients by inviting them back week after week because of ongoing “issues”, whilst they themselves lack basic training in autism, so they know when to refer on.

Makes you think.

Frank Ray

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