How to find a neuro-affirmative & neurodivergent-aware counsellor

Hello prospective client! I am a neurodivergent-aware and neuro-affirmative counsellor, and have worked with a range of neurodivergent people, mainly ADHD, autistic and AuDHD. I’ve written this guide in the hope that it will be helpful for people wanting to find a neuro-affirmative and neurodivergent-aware counsellor. The guide is written intentionally in a style that I hope is neurodivergent-friendly, framing the key questions to ask yourself in bold with short paragraphs and examples where appropriate.


So, the questions I would recommend asking or reflecting on when looking for a counsellor are:

1. Is the counsellor accredited by a well-established governing body?

Accreditation means that the counsellor has had rigorous training so, generally, you should find yourself in safe hands. The main ones in the UK are BACP, NCP, and UKCP. Check that you can see one of these credentials when you look at the profiles of counsellors on directories or their websites.

2. Does the counsellor say on their website/profile that they have knowledge, training and experience of working with neurodivergence?

Counsellors will have varying levels of understanding of the world of neurodivergence so it’s worth checking what they mean. For instance, does the counsellor have lived experience of neurodivergence in their family? Does the counsellor attend regular training or keep up to date with the latest information about neurodivergence? This is really important as there can be a lot of out-of-date information or even misinformation about neurodivergence online, so up-to-date knowledge is essential.

Also, the onus should not be on you to educate your counsellor about your particular neurotype – the counsellor should have a solid body of knowledge from which you can both explore your unique profile. The best way to find out about the counsellor’s level of knowledge is to look on their website which should state their qualifications and training experience and also ask them about it in your introductory conversation or session.

3. What kind of words does the counsellor use when they mention neurodivergence?

As an example, does the counsellor use the word ‘disorder’ or ‘has autism’ on their website? The type of language a counsellor uses will help you work out whether they actively promote and celebrate neurodiversity or whether they approach it from a deficit point of view e.g. ‘behaviour’ to be fixed in some way.

4. Is your counsellor neurodivergent?

Finding a counsellor who is also neurodivergent can be an added bonus, especially in how it can enhance the quality of the therapeutic relationship. You may like to check out in an introductory session whether your counsellor identifies as neurodivergent as it may not be explicitly stated on their website.

5. How does the counsellor manage communications?

How easy is it to find information about what the counsellor offers? Can you find the cost of sessions, how long sessions are, what modality the counsellor is, etc? A neuro-affirmative counsellor will work hard to make their essential info as easy and simple to access as possible. This is because the counsellor will know how stressful it can be to get easily lost in trying to navigate information online. Additionally, you may like to find out how the counsellor manages missed payments or missed sessions if forgetfulness is an issue.

For example, in my private practice, I have worked with ADHD clients who often forget to pay for their sessions. I understand why this happens in the context of their neurotype and I’m happy to send a text message once per week as a reminder for clients who have forgotten. This isn’t brought up as an ‘issue’ to discuss in counselling.

6. What options does the counsellor give for first contact? 

A neuro-affirmative counsellor will know that some neurodivergent people may find it difficult to take the first step in making contact. They will make it clear on their website that they can offer different ways of making first contact and that they can be flexible in building that initial relationship.

For example, I recently worked with an AUDHD client who felt too uncomfortable to start the counselling relationship on the phone or online. So we started our sessions via WhatsApp and then moved to speaking on the phone before then taking the step to work on Zoom. I hadn’t started contact in this way before, but I was happy to try this out and it worked well as an alternative option to building trust in the relationship.

7. What does your counsellor know about routes to assessment and diagnosis? 

A neurodivergent-aware counsellor will have knowledge of the diagnostic process for ADHD, autism, dyslexia, etc. They would be able to support you in exploring the pros and cons of assessment and how that may compare with identifying as neurodivergent without assessment. They will also have some knowledge about medications where it is appropriate.

8. What does your counsellor know about the impact of neurodivergence in various contexts?

e.g. work, relationships sexuality, family, food, social interaction, spirituality.

A neurodivergent-aware counsellor will have an understanding of the nuances that affect these different environments depending upon the neurodivergent context being explored. For example, ADHD would affect a person’s relationship with their working life differently from a person who is AUDHD or autistic.

I hope you find this guide helpful. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to get in touch!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Bristol, Avon, BS3
Written by Catherine Flynn, Specialising in ADHD, Autism, AuDHD & life changes.
Bristol, Avon, BS3

SPECIALISING IN NEURODIVERSITYAre you wondering about ADHD, Autism or AuDHD in yourself or in a family member? I specialise in supporting clients exploring this pre or post diagnosis and outside the medical model. I have lived experience of neurodivergence and am well equipped to help you explore th...

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