After my July 27th Counselling appointment, I took a step back to reflect on a month of weekly appointments I had with my Aunt Wendy ─ a loving term I have given to my Counsellor, who truly felt like instant family from session one.
I had big fears about what we were set to talk about, which entailed huge issues I thought only had one solution ─ a solution that wouldn’t benefit me to any degree whatsoever.
With my former Counsellor, I found myself being talked down to with every appointment. It felt like I was supposed to come up with my solutions. All she could offer was, “what a shame, you’re better than that!”
Additionally, what really hurt was her saying, “You’re one of my patients with the most potential. I wish you saw that.” It seemed as if she disregarded the fact that she knew what obstacles I was up against ─ or so she should have, after studying Autism Spectrum Disorder for the three decades that she claimed to have in her verbal resume.
It was always a game of superiority ─ not a drop of equality or humanity was felt. I didn’t feel an ounce of empathy.
With my Aunt Wendy’s Counselling sessions, we always meet in a conference room, thus allowing appointments to have the emotional feeling of a meeting rather than a traditional Psychiatry appointment.
Wendy is my Director, overseeing what can be done to make my life go from good to excellent. My Mother plays the producer, working behind the scenes to make sure that I can shine and get any assistance I need.
Each time we meet, Mum and I both get a Coffee, followed by a piece of paper Aunt Wendy calls her ‘Problem Solving Action Plan’. Each of the four boxes reads,
- For this problem:
- Here is what I will do:
- If this gets in the way:
- Here’s what else I can try:
In addition to writing these goals down, I have found myself writing in a notebook where additional bullet points were put into my ‘Problem Solving Action Plan’. Because I am a detail-oriented person, it helps to be extremely specific about what goals I am needing to get done and how I can fulfill them.
After every session, I’ll come home, type up those goals, and make sure that I have all my thoughts and notes organized in an easy-to-access location. (I have a folder in my Google Drive entitled “Adulthood/Counselling.”)
As we discuss my problems, there is always an undertone of reassurance and problem solving that involves both me and my Mum finding equal ground and understanding.
Aunt Wendy applauds me with trying my best to make sure I see my parent’s concerns and disappointment, while also supplying any of their personal requests. For example, something that I wrote in my journal entry this past week was the following:
I don’t mind being disciplined, as that is the correct reaction to breaking the rules and not doing what I have been told to do. Having said that, I would like to have discussions that do not feel like a battle is beginning. I want to feel like we can healthfully talk about our feelings. As a result, I feel like that’ll help me and my Dad get along better.
My hope that if you are able to get Psychiatric help, that you are able to have some control over who your Counsellor is.
You should be able to project your voice and opinion with each session. There are always going to be times when you have to face the music and admit that you aren’t doing so well.
We are human; we all make stupid, bone-headed mistakes that make our Parents and/or loved ones shake their heads. Sometimes, it gets us into trouble.
But no matter what, your Counsellor should encourage you to rise above yourself and these mistakes — even if they’re cataclysmic.
Be assertive, but don’t dominate the entire conversation. If you are doing Counselling with your Parents, allow them to say what they have to say and address their concerns. Allow the Counsellor to voice their wisdom and see what they have to say.
Even though they may not have ASD themselves, they claimed their education in ‘1,001 Ways To Help You Get Through Life’. My Counsellor has a “Problem solving action plan” that does exactly that.
First, state the problem. Then, come up with solutions for the problems. Third, admit that there are going to be hurdles trying to achieve the goal. This is not you being weak, but you showing that you are strong. Finally, create solutions that will help you overcome any potential hurdles.
Ask questions about anything. Do you have a Social Media addiction? Questions about Autism and its relationship with sex and romance? No question is off the table for your Counsellor, and they can bring their wisdom to the table.
My Counsellor has always provided personal experiences from her many established years she has collected from living on Earth. It’s another continual way that she reminds me that she is human – heartless.
Ask the Counsellor if you can send in your writing or Journals. Because she is also a writer, Aunt Wendy encourages me to constantly send in my journal entries, as it’s an easy way to see how I am doing day-by-day so that we don’t have to play catch-up too much later on.
More than anything, you should feel at ease with your Counsellor. If this is someone who is supposed to make your overall wellness better, you need to feel comfortable talking with them and confiding in them.