NEUROTYPICAL PARTNER GROUP

WE HEAR YOUR PAIN

By the time one or both partners in a neurodiverse relationship makes it to our website, the NT partner feels desperate for change but deeply doubtful that it can happen. She feels like she is alone in caring about an emotional connection and that she carries burden of keeping the relationship alive and the family functioning.

 

AND YOUR PAIN SOUNDS LIKE...

We hear NT partner's say:

  • He accuses me of nagging him and being critical but I just want to spend time together.
     

  • I try to be sweet to him but all he hears is criticism.
     

  • I think he might love me but would it kill him to show it sometimes?
     

  • He tells me that emotions don't count. That I should be more logical. But emotions do matter to me.
     

  • I think I'm going crazy.
     

  • I don't want to lose him but I don't know what to do!

THERE'S A NAME(S) FOR THIS

Several unofficial "syndromes" have come into use to describe the NT partner experience. In 1988, the name Cassandra Syndrome or Complex was used to describe dysfunctional relationships, emotional or physical suffering, and being disbelieved when attempting to relate the one's experiences. Other names given for a similar set of symptoms were Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome (OTRS) and Affective Deprivation Disorder (AfDD).

 

Although the details of the descriptions vary and none of these have been officially approved by the psychology profession, they all refer to insufficient emotional nurturance or complete emotional neglect from your significant other, in this case, your partner on the spectrum.

 

Most importantly, the descriptions feel VERY real to our clients who experience the emotional deficit. In extreme cases, the neurotypical partner may be under enough stress to exhibit many of the symptoms of complex trauma (C-PTSD) including difficulty regulating emotions, suffering from a negative image of self, and struggles with interpersonal relationships.

FEELING ALONE

If you have developed Cassandra syndrome, you may have long ago let go of any hope of having your emotional needs met. Furthermore, it is hard to explain your experiences to family or friends for fear of being judged or misunderstood. Usually, it is only you (the partner/spouse) who is closest to AS Partner that fully realizes the impact of neurodiversity on a relationship.

 

FINDING A GROUP

Our goal for our neurotypical partner group is to provide a safe space for you to speak with other neurotypical partners about how neurodiversity affects you.

 

In the group, you will:

 

  • Realize that your story sounds a lot like everyone else's.

  • Lessen the shame you are feeling.

  • Be more open to figuring out what to work on and what to accept.

  • Learn from other partners who are on a similar journey.

  • Find others who can support you emotionally.

 

FORMAT:​

The format is as follows:

  • Each group is limited to 6 individuals.

  • The group will meet for 1 hour and 15 minutes twice a month on Zoom.

  • The group begins with a brief "check in".

  • After this, there is a 15 to 20 minute training or discussion of a topic dealing with relationships. The topics (which be modified based on your interest) are:
     

    1. Am I crazy?

    2. Self-care

    3. Speaking so I can be heard

    4. Loving boundaries

    5. Change versus acceptance

    6. Grieving what is lost

    7. Open topic night

  • The rest of our time is devoted to an open discussion guided by our neurodiversity specialist.

  • The last part of our time is for the group to voice an appreciation to the working couple for something they witnessed and to share what they got out of what they saw. 

 

While this may seem intimidating, our hope is that you will feel the support of your peers as you deal with issues that most of you others share. We will create a safe place where you can be open and share meaningful experiences with each other.

 
REQUIREMENTS:
 

The requirements to be part of the group are:
 

  • You must have an initial interview session with your therapist/coach, although this may not be needed for current or past clients. 
     

  • You can not be in crisis. Your therapist/coach will help you define this.
     

  • You must be willing to commit to at least 7 sessions.
     

  • You must be willing to commit to complete confidentiality of what is discussed during our group sessions. 

 

WHEN:
 

Wednesdays 3:30pm PST. Start date will be determined after signups.

FAQ'S ABOUT GROUP

Q: What’s the first step? 

A: Fill out the contact form below.

Q:  What will the group cost? 

A: $100/couple/session with a commitment of 7 sessions. Payment for each session is due after each session. There are no credits for missed sessions. A limited number of sliding-scale options may be available. Please ask your therapist/coach.

Q: My marriage is really struggling. Will I mess up the group?

 

A: Probably not but your therapist/coach will help you figure out if this is a good fit in the initial consult conversation. 

Q: What if I am in individual therapy?   

 

A: 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.

Q: What if I am super nervous about groups? 

 

A: 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. 

Q: What if I can’t come to all the groups? 

A: You still need to pay the full amount. We will offer homework in between the sessions. Even if you miss one or two groups you will still benefit, though if you know in advance you’ll miss multiple sessions it may be best to wait for another round of the group.

Q: When does the group start? 

A: Once we have put together a cohort of NT partners who are ready to go on this journey together, we will get things rolling. We will make sure to keep you posted, and give you a heads up so you can make the necessary arrangements to ensure your participation. 

Q: Will members come and go?   

A: No. This group is what is called a closed group. 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 group size will be limited, giving you ample time and space to be heard.​

Neurotypical woman participating in support group
Cassandra syndrome steps
Image by Carly Rae Hobbins

“Life is . . . not about counting the losses and the lost expectations, but rather swimming, with as much grace as can be mustered, in the joy of all of it.”.”  

 

 

Leisa Hammett