So, Not All Psychotherapy Hates Autism

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that the “published on this day” function here reminds me that today is the third anniversary of my first appointment with my current therapist. Although, really, I’d been anticipating it because of related posts that similarly surfaced a couple of days ago.

It had not been a great day leading up to the appointment, but the appointment itself went pretty well. Note the reference to my previous attempt at finding a therapist which had been a whole year and a half earlier and ended after just three appointments.

I’d written about that therapeutic breakup at the time and the way in which I did so goes a ways toward explaining why I didn’t return to therapy for so long afterward.

In trying to break up with my therapist this week, she said exactly the wrong thing: “Therapy can be hard.”

Yes. I know that. Of course I fucking know that.

There’s a difference, however, between, “Therapy can be hard.” and, “The socially performative nature of therapy can be especially stressful for people whose condition can be in large degree about social communication and performance distress.” If a therapist doesn’t see this, I don’t know what they are doing.

My first exposure to therapy was when I was a kid during the separation and divorce of my parents. I don’t actually have any conscious memory of how that split affected me. Really, I only remember a therapist asking me to draw a picture and I drew one of a room-sized computer. I can’t even recall if I was in the picture, or if somehow the computer was me—if that’s even an idea a kid that young could have.

Later, however, my mother did inform me that at one of these sessions, I simply sat zipped up in my snorkel jacket for the entire session. This might explain why I still find hoodies soothing. I’m wearing one today.

My next bit of psychoanalysis came decades later in 2016, when my mother finally convinced me to submit myself to the process of an adult autism evaluation. That psychodiagnostician also served as my therapist for six months in 2018, both during and after my infamous vocational rehabilitation descent into sobbing breakdowns and autistic burnout.

During my searches for therapists after the failure in early 2019, I’d come to the observation that psychotherapy of necessity must function either as social work or social control. It took a long time, but where I landed was in a therapeutic environment that chooses the former and likely has as much disdain for the latter as I do.

About a year after I began with my current therapist, I’d noted here that we’d essentially stumbled into something I called unmindful self-compassion as the construct through which I navigate my impairments and disabilities both in therapy and outside of it. I’d be hard pressed to see that as anything other than an outcome of experiencing social work rather than social control.

Three years on, the next and related challenge is hoping that with the imminent departure of my primary care physician (who from the get-go understood neurodiversity and knew Spoon Theory), I can convince the nearby doctor who views medicine through a social justice lens to make room for me despite not currently taking on new patients.