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“There is beauty in diversity in all areas of life including neurological diversity” (Bella): A mixed method study into how new thoughts on neurodiversity are influencing psychotherapists’ practice

Authors
  • Garrett, Catherine
Type
Published Article
Journal
Zeitschrift für Psychodrama und Soziometrie
Publisher
Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden
Publication Date
Feb 04, 2022
Volume
21
Issue
Suppl 1
Pages
147–161
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s11620-021-00638-5
PMCID: PMC8815022
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Hauptbeiträge
License
Unknown

Abstract

The term ‘neurodiversity’ describes the idea that, throughout the human population, different brain developments and structures exist. Neuronal variances, such as autism, are not seen as disorders but as variations, different from the neurotypical brain. Instead of being considered ill and cure-worthy, neurodiverse people should be included and integrated into society. The aim of this study was to explore psychotherapists’ knowledge of current trends in the understanding of autistic people i.e. the Neurodiversity movement. It wanted to identify the sources psychotherapists gained their knowledge of autism and whether terminology impacts on psychotherapists’ approach to therapy. Data was collected using a mixed method online questionnaire and analysed using thematic analysis. The results showed that participants were acutely aware of the potential negative impact of language and terminology on ‘the other’, including shame and judgement. Participants explored the purpose and usefulness of labelling and how using client-preferred terminology was helpful. Most participants felt that further knowledge and training in neurodiversity would benefit their practice. Implications for psychotherapy practice and the profession are discussed, including identifying sources of knowledge and training on neurodiversity. The opportunities, and barriers, needed for psychotherapists to support the autistic community in positive self-understanding and advocating are considered.

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