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FAQ's - Neurodiverse Couples - see below

More FAQ's (general info & insurance) - click here

  • Is empathy possible in our neurodiverse relationship?
    First, it is important to understand the different types of empathy. Psychologists Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekman break down the concept of empathy into three categories: Cognitive empathy is the ability to understand how a person feels and what they might be thinking. Cognitive empathy makes us better communicators, because it helps us relay information in a way that best reaches the other person. Emotional empathy (also known as affective empathy) is the ability to share the feelings of another person. Some have described it as "your pain in my heart." Compassionate empathy (also known as empathic concern) goes beyond simply understanding others and sharing their feelings: it actually moves us to take action, to help however we can. The AS partner may struggle at emotional empathy but, with the right context, be great at cognitive and compassionate empathy. Your therapist can help expand your view of empathy and rethink how empathy can be given and received, thus creating a deeper connection in your relationship.
  • Can you explain "integrated neurodiverse therapy"?"
    WHAT: Integrated Neurodiverse Therapy is when you have a couple's therapist plus a separate individual therapist to support each partner. We should emphasize that all of your therapists or neurodiverse coaches should be well trained in neurodiversity and regularly coordinate with each other (with your permission of coarse). Our team approach makes this coordination easy to pull off. With the integrated therapy approach, each person can focus on growing individually so he/she can show up in the relationship in a healthy way. INVESTMENT: We realize that this requires a significant initial investment in therapy; however, our experience is that it significantly increases the effectiveness of therapy and most couples find that the integrated approach is well worth it. HOW TO GET STARTED: We recommend that you start with couples therapy. At your first session, your couples therapist will help assess whether integrated therapy makes sense for you and, if so, can connect you to the right support team.
  • Do I have to get a diagnosis?
    Most of our clients do NOT seek to receive a diagnosis, nor do we find much benefit in providing one. It is much more effective to treat whatever unique characteristics which present themselves and avoid the negative effects of labeling and having a fixed mindset. ​​ On the other hand, it can be INCREDIBLY helpful to receive a diagnosis if it can help a couple reinterpret behaviors as a way of experiencing the world as opposed to a sign of bad intent. You can read more about getting a diagnosis on our ASD Diagnosis page.
  • Will I feel stigmatized as an Aspie or be labeled?
    We certainly hope not. We believe in a strengths-based model which focuses on perspective-taking and determining how to best provide resources to all of our clients including those who are considered neurodiverse. It is not that the neurodiverse individual is unable; it is that partners and society in general need help to connect and be inclusive. Our goal is to provide hope, resources and guidance for neurodiverse individuals and their partners to utilize their unique gifts to build a fulfilling relationship.
  • Will you be able to tell if my partner is autistic versus narcissistic?
    We are very careful when using labels as they can be experienced as an attack and/or create damaging shame. With that said, individuals on the spectrum are often wrongly labeled as narcissistic. The need to be right and to correct others can be a reflection of black and white thinking (think autism). This is contrasted to a need to put others down and the need to be elevated in stature over others (think narcissism). Your therapist can help make the nuanced distinction so both you and your partner can get a clear picture of what is happening in your relationship.
  • My partner has an anger problem. Is that because he is on the spectrum?
    This may or may not be true. People on the spectrum often expend most of their energy managing their way through an emotionally confusing world. The gap between their understanding of the world and that of many of the people around them can be extremely frustrating. At some point, it becomes too much and leads to a melt-down (anger) and then withdrawal. Thus, the Aspie's anger may be a result of the underlying neuro-differences so it is often most helpful to address those neuro-differences to take some steam out of the anger prior to addressing the anger directly. On the other hand, anger is a natural part of many relationships which can escalate to unhealthy levels. Talk to your therapist or coach to better understand it's origin and set a clear plan to address it together.
  • My partner struggles to express emotions and thoughts. Can you help?
    Absolutely. You are describing "alexithymia" which is a deficit in the ability to identify and describe emotions experienced by one's self. The Aspie partner HAS the feelings and thoughts but just struggles to express them. This is where therapy can help tremendously. We slow communication down to give time and space to let the feelings and thoughts arise, without the usual pressure to come up with something. We also help you find alternate ways to express feelings and thoughts such as in writing, through music, poems, movies, and other create means.
  • My aspie partner just doesn't understand me. Can you fix him?
    First, the attitude of fixing your partner is not helpful. What your statement of your partner not understanding you is a reflection of a problem with "theory of mind". Theory of mind is an important social-cognitive skill that involves the ability to think about mental states, both your own and those of others. It encompasses the ability to think about someone else's emotions, desires, beliefs, and knowledge. But the problem is not just the Aspie's. It goes both ways. The neurotypical (NT) needs to learn to understand the Aspie mind. And the Aspie needs to learn to understand the NT mind. By shifting from being critical to being curious and compassionate as you try to understand each other, your therapist will be able to address the theory of mind problem.
  • What if we are both on the spectrum?
    It is common to have two partners on the spectrum. In such cases, the therapy is very different than an AS/NT pairing. In the AS/AS pairing, the main problem may not be emotional disconnect but rather an inability to negotiate matters of daily life such as chore sharing, parenting, dealing with in-laws, money, and sex. Leading completely separately lives may be part of the couple's pattern due to repeated failures when trying to work together. Your therapist or coach will be able to act as an interpreter to help you understand each other and provide concrete strategies to experiment with to allow change to take hold.
  • What is the format like?
    Each group will have a slightly different format but they will all include expert training, lots of discussion and application, optional "spotlight" coaching, and peer support.
  • What will the groups cost?
    Pricing varies based on the group. See more information on our Group page. Because the fee "reserves" your spot in the group, you will be charged for each session even if you miss it.
  • What if I can’t come to all the groups?
    You still need to pay for missed sessions. We will offer homework between sessions. Even if you miss one or two groups you will still benefit; however, if you know in advance you’ll miss multiple sessions it may be best to wait for the next round of the group.
  • Will members come and go?
    No. Our group are considered "closed groups". The members you meet on the first day are the ones that will be with you the whole time unless they drop out, and no new members will be added. The groups will be limited in size, giving you ample time and space to be heard.
  • What if I am super nervous about groups?
    Then joining the group will require courage on your part but, rest assured, the group will work hard to support you. This may help you have more comfort in other groups that you are a part of, maybe even in your family.
  • My marriage is really struggling. Will we mess up the couples group?
    Probably not but your therapist/coach will help you figure out if this is a good fit in the initial consult conversation.
  • What if I am in individual therapy?
    No problem. We can work with your individual therapist to make sure we are on the same page and support the work you are doing in your other therapy.
  • What guidelines exists for behavior in the groups?
    We ask that each participant treats others with respect. We ask that all conversations be treated as confidential and should not be shared outside of the group. We ask that you do not participate under the influence of substances.
  • How old does an individual need to be to part of a group?
    You must be at least 18 years old.
  • For the couples group, if my partner is sick, can I come without her/him?
    Yes. You are welcome to attend as long as your partner is OK with doing so.
  • I am not in a relationship but want to be. Can I still come to the couples group?
    Unfortunately not but you should consider another one of our groups.
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