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  • Emily Adler, LMSW

What Does Neurodivergent-Affirming Therapy Look Like?

Many neurodivergent people go through their lives being told (whether directly or indirectly) that they are broken, disordered, or inadequate. If you’ve found yourself struggling with things like executive functioning, fitting in socially, feeling like a burden, or anxiety, you are not broken. You just live in a world that was not built with you in mind. Many traditional therapy approaches for ADHD and Autism attempt to "fix" deficits. They don't acknowledge that ADHDers and Autistics are not deficient, we are just different. You don’t need someone to teach you social skills or tell you to “just try harder;” you need empathy and validation. You need support in learning to trust the emotions and feelings that you've been taught your whole life to ignore.

Neurodivergent-Affirming Therapy can include:

  • Processing big emotions (for highly-sensitive individuals)

  • Dealing with feelings of numbness or emotional disconnect

  • Finding ways to cope with executive functioning demands in day-to-day life

  • Executive functioning support and coaching in-session

  • Exploring options for environmental modification and accommodation

  • Navigating through masking challenges to find and connect with your authentic self

  • Finding strength and confidence in who you are

  • Connecting with your curiosity, creativity, and values

  • Having a safe place to co-regulate and learn self-regulation strategies

  • Help with the process of finding a neurodivergent community

Neurodivergent-Affirming Therapy also needs to be flexible. I strive to create a modeled environment where your needs are heard, and you can experiment with accommodations, modifications, and strategies to make your life easier. Some of the ways in which therapy can be modified to fit your needs are below (consider this a challenge to get creative - as long as it's safe, anything you can think of can be incorporated into therapy):

  • Doing therapy from the comfort of your bed or comfiest spot with your laptop or phone

  • Turning your video off or doing phone sessions when you're having an anxious day and don't want to be looked at

  • Water/snack breaks during therapy

  • Using the chat function to communicate non-verbally when words are hard

  • Engaging in an activity you enjoy, like video games, question cards, or art during session

  • Executive-functioning coaching and check-ins

  • Eco-therapy (going outside to do therapy sessions)

  • On hard days, having therapy just be a safe space to co-regulate without any other agenda or goal

What other ideas do you have for your ideal therapy experience? Feel free to share them during our consultation if you decide to work with me. We can brainstorm how to incorporate them into our sessions together.


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