Mullum Road Clinic Practitioners and reception staff strive to work in a neuro-affirming manner. This means creating a therapeutic environment that respects and supports the diverse neurological profiles of our clients.
Neurodivergent is a term used to describe individuals whose neurological development and functioning differ from what is considered typical or "neurotypical." It encompasses a wide range of variations in brain function and behaviour. Neurodivergent folk may identify as Autistic, as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, Gender Diversity, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and other neurological differences.
The concept of neurodiversity emphasizes the idea that neurological differences are a natural part of human diversity, such as variations in gender, race, or other characteristics. It promotes acceptance, inclusion, and accommodation for people with neurological differences, rather than pathologising or stigmatising them.
Advocates of neurodiversity, such as the Mullum Road team, argue that society should learn to be more accepting of, understanding of and accommodating to the needs and perspectives of neurodivergent individuals, recognizing that their unique strengths and abilities can contribute positively to various aspects of life, including education, employment, and social interactions. The concept of neurodiversity aims to challenge stereotypes and prejudices associated with neurological differences and promote a more inclusive and understanding society.
Mullum Road Clinic psychologists and counsellors are aiming to use strategies to work in a neuro-affirming manner. We acknowledge that this is a process and continues to emerge as greater understanding around Neuro Diversity develops.
These strategies include:
- Educating ourselves: Continuously educating ourselves about various neurological profiles and neurodiversity. Staying up to date with the latest research and resources in the field.
- Building Awareness: Promoting awareness and understanding of neurodiversity among our colleagues and clients. Helping to destigmatize neurodivergent conditions and challenge stereotypes.
- Person-Centred Approach: Mullum Road strives to adopt a person-centred approach that focuses on client's unique strengths, needs, and goals, rather than trying to "normalise" or pathologise clients’ neurodivergent traits.
- Safe and Supportive Environment: Making efforts to create a reception area and therapy space that is sensory-friendly and accommodating for neurodivergent clients. This may involve providing sensory tools/toys, allowing breaks throughout sessions, and attempting to minimize sensory overload.
- Flexibility: Adapting a flexible approach in communication and treatment strategies. Recognize that what works for one person may not work for another. Adapting therapeutic approaches to meet each client's specific needs.
- Open and Direct Communication: Encouraging open and honest communication with reception staff, clients, and psychologists/counsellors. Creating a safe space for clients to express their thoughts and feelings about their neurodivergent experiences.
- Inclusive Language: Using inclusive and respectful language when discussing neurodiversity. Avoiding pathologizing language or stigmatizing labels.
- Collaborative Decision-Making: Involving our clients in decision-making regarding their treatment and goals. This collaborative approach aims to empower clients to take an active role in their therapy.
- Emphasizing Strengths: Focusing on client's strengths and talents. Helping our clients to recognize and build on their unique abilities rather than just addressing deficits.
- Sensory Needs: Awareness of and attempts to accommodate individual sensory needs. For example, if a client is sensitive to light or noise, ensuring that the therapy environment is adjusted accordingly.
- Visual Supports: Visual supports, such as visual schedules or social stories, may be used to help with communication and understanding for clients who benefit from visual aids.
- Mindful of Nonverbal Communication: Remembering to be mindful of nonverbal communication and sensory sensitivities. Clients may have difficulty with eye contact or may be overwhelmed by too many questions. The Mullum Road team attempts to respect clients’ boundaries around sensory differences.
- Celebrate Progress: It is important to celebrate even small steps of progress and acknowledge our client's efforts and achievements. Positive reinforcement can be a powerful motivator.
- Practising Patience: Recognition that therapy progresses may take time. It is important to model patience with the therapeutic process and support clients for the duration of the process. We are mindful that some Neurodivergent individuals may need more time to process information and develop new skills.
- Keeping Informed: Mullum Road Practitioners strive to stay informed about available resources, therapies, Neuro-affirming language and interventions that can benefit neurodivergent clients, and be prepared to offer referrals to other practitioners or services when needed.
By incorporating these strategies, we aim to create a more inclusive and supportive therapeutic environment for neurodivergent clients and work in a neuro-affirming manner as psychologists and counsellors. We acknowledge that each client is unique, so it's essential to tailor our approach to everyone’s specific needs and preferences.
Many of our reception staff and psychologists/counsellors identify as Neuro Divergent. Mullum Road believes that lived experience is one of the most important factors in ensuring that we can be authentic in our understanding of neurodivergence.