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Ten ways at Arrive Therapy that I adapt my Hypno-CBT for neurodivergent and autistic clients

As a neurodivergent person myself I am well-aware of the adaptions that autistic cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy clients may like or need, which may include -

Managing as best I can the sensory environment if we’re face to face, and finding out about autistic clients’ sensory profiles. (I may look at issues such as artificial lighting, proximity to other people, powerful smells etc.)

Signposting the client’s journey, if we’re meeting at the clinic, in terms of telling the receptionist you’re here, and where to wait (there may be a quieter area, or I can meet you outside the building, if preferred.) Home visits for our Hypno-CBT sessions may be available.

Making the seating arrangement work for neurodivergent clients.Creating a calm space and asking what format works for clients – do they like to doodle or use fidget toys for example? And would wearing headphones in-session help?

Within CBT and Hypno-CBT, we look at understanding safety behaviours (behaviours that we utilise in order to reduce anxiety and stress). Safety behaviours can often get in the way of overcoming anxiety, however for neurodivergent people, they may need some behaviours to cope with sensory overload. Likewise I won’t try to change clients’ communication styles or vocal delivery (some elements of CBT may see autistic communication as less assertive, for example).

Working with my knowledge of autism that includes: the ‘double empathy’ problem; masking; neurodivergence and intersectionality; eye contact; body language, etc. I understand masking from a personal point of view, and can help us navigate the subject within our cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy sessions.

I also do my best to be informed about other areas of intersectionality, e.g. ADHD, race, gender, sexual orientation etc.

Finding out the client’s experiences of mindful techniques and relaxation, and working out what suits them.

E.g. some mindfulness practices within cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy can help us get in touch with how we’re feeling, but if they’re new to a client, there may be adaptions we can make. Many autists find they carry body tension, it’s quite common, and goes hand in hand with anxiety and social anxiety, so we can look at ways of developing this awareness.

Sometimes I set homework for clients – maybe a mood diary for example – but I will liaise with neurodivergent clients regarding any executive functioning difficulties, or other considerations. (Some autistics experience alexithymia, when we’re not sure how we feel, or can’t put it into words. I will be sympathetic to this!!)

Helping clients with acceptance, problem-solving, cognitive re-appraisal, confidence and even assertiveness and boundaries, and other areas as required that cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy can assist with.

If you’d like more info, please email me on to discuss your queries.

Kathy Carter


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