Our last article covered areas of psychological healthcare that can currently be inaccessible to autistic people and other neurodivergent people. This article offers some key indicators of accessibility to look for in psychological healthcare services and professionals.
As with all professionals who serve the public, psychological healthcare professionals should approach the professional relationship as a partnership. The professional brings the formal education and clinical experience to the table, but the clients or patients bring the most important thing of all – themselves. In fact, the individual’s values, beliefs, and preferences are so important that they comprise one of the three pillars of evidence-based practice. Tangible indicators that a professional views the relationship as a partnership often include checking in with phrases like “does that sound correct to you?” or “what do you think of that plan?”
Good psychological healthcare professionals also honor perceptions as reality. Doing so does not necessarily mean adopting those perceptions as one’s own reality, but rather to respect that they are someone else’s reality. Along these lines, professionals who provide good psychological healthcare understand behavior as communication – often communication of a need. Professionals who simply tell an individual to change their behavior, or come up with reward or consequence systems for doing so, are likely ignoring deeper realities to the detriment of clients.
Finally, better psychological healthcare professionals always value self-determination. They work at the client’s pace. They strive to understand and meet needs. They answer questions as clearly as they are able. Psychological healthcare exists to help people live well, and any system that threatens self-determination almost certainly does the opposite.
Paying attention to these key factors when seeking psychological healthcare – and even discussing them directly with psychological healthcare professionals can help the experience to be as accessible and (hopefully!) helpful as possible!